For a good 24-hour period, Jalen Reagor was the controversial pick of the 2020 Draft. Obviously that thunder was stolen less than a day later with the Jalen Hurts pick.
That’s for the best, however, as the Reagor pick was nothing but positive for a team in desperate need of WRs who can separate with speed. We wrote about Reagor a ton leading up to the draft, and in his draft profile we alluded to his performance against Ohio State in September 2018 as some of the best proof of his ability to not only play outside and release against physical coverage, but to make contested catches in tight coverage.
The three corners Reagor matched up against throughout the game—Damon Arnette, Shaun Wade, and Jeff Okudah—are all first round picks set to play on Sundays. Okudah went 3rd overall to Detroit last week, Arnette went 19th to Las Vegas, and Shaun Wade is projected to be a first round pick in 2021. If you’re looking for something to sell you on Reagor’s ability in the NFL, it really doesn’t get better than this.
I’ll include the tape if you want to see for yourself, but if you scroll past the video each play is transcribed for convenience:
*all plays involve Reagor (touches, blocks, targets) all touches in bold
- 2nd & 2 (11:53 Q1) — Reagor blocks on a bubble screen—he whiffs on contact but good positioning forces the defender to go around his outside shoulder and miss the ball-carrier.
- 1st & 10 (11:41) — Bubble screen to Reagor, well executed, gain of 12 yards.
- 1st & 10 (11:24) — Another bubble screen to Reagor, gain of 16 yards.
TCU clearly wants to get him touches early and often.
- 1st & 5 (6:21) — Reagor wins the release and gains outside leverage on (Arnette), he makes a nice one-handed grab, using his body and hands to shield the corner from the ball. Gain of 42 yards.
Suck the defense with screens on the first series, hit them deep on he next.
- 1st & 10 (5:57) — Reagor cooks (Arnette) with an inside release for a wide open slant, but the pass is knocked down at the LOS.
- 2nd & goal (4:38) — (Red Zone) Reagor settles in the middle of zone coverage, he’s covered and the ball is thrown over his head out the back of the end zone.
- 1st & 10 (1:49) — Reagor is lined up tight in a bunch formation and lead blocks on a jet sweep—he does a good job of engaging and driving Kendall Sheffield (2019 4th rd) off the field, Turpin gains 6.
- 2nd & 4 (1:35) — Reagor gets the ball on a reverse, presses outside and cuts back inside for a gain of 5, picking up the first down and showing good field awareness.
- 1st & 10 (9:26 Q2) — Reagor is 1-on-1 with (Sheffield) who gives good coverage, Reagor falls down and the pass falls incomplete.
- 3rd & 12 (2:53) — Reagor is 1-on-1 with (Arnette), he wins on the route and has a step on coverage but is overthrown by two or three yards, incomplete.
Reagor beats Arnette time and time again, compelling a change for Ohio St. in the second half.
- 1st & 10 (15:00 Q3) — Reagor is called in motion behind the QB who throws it to him on a swing pass, he’s met by a swarm of Buckeyes for a loss of 4.
- 3rd & 6 (14:05) — Reagor wins on a deep slant against (Wade) for a 14 yard gain.
- 2nd & 10 (13:15) — Reagor (slot) wins outside leverage on (Wade) but couldn’t quite connect with Robinson. Wentz is able to deliver a better ball here, and Reagor is clearly disappointed.
- 2nd & 2 (11:22) — Reagor is a lead blocker on a bubble screen, the DB doesn’t give a ton of effort but once again Reagor is in good position and forces the defender outside.
- 1st & 10 (6:58) — Reagor gets the hand-off on a jet sweep, defender makes a good tackle, gain of 2 yards.
It’s a lot of Okudah on Reagor from here on out.
- 1st & 10 (2:00) — Reagor again blocking on a bubble screen, (Okudah) blows him up but Reagor is enough of a hindrance to take him out of the play, WR gains a good chunk of yardage.
- 3rd & 8 (11:12 Q4) — Reagor beats (Okudah) on a dig/slant for a 14 yard gain, picking up the first down.
- 1st & 10 (3:27) — Reagor stalks his man and traps him inside on a block that allows the ball carrier to get the edge for a gain of 8—more good blocking.
- 2nd & 2 (3:08) — Reagor is able to beat zone coverage and find a soft spot, but Robinson misses him high and behind, Reagor can’t make the circus catch. This is a ball Wentz delivers with ease.
Reagor finished the day with 7 catches for 98 yards and 1 carry for 4 more yards—102 total yards on 8 touches. That’s a pretty good day for a wideout up against an NFL-level secondary.
The majority of the first half saw him matched up with Damon Arnette (the Raiders 2020 first rounder) and he won on the majority of routes. Even when Reagor didn’t make a play, he was able to create plenty of separation from Arnette.
Ohio State makes the brief change to put Shaun Wade on Reagor to start the second half, who he also beats a handful of times before the inevitable switch to Okudah—a blue-chip lockdown corner—who was able to successfully slow him down some, though not completely, with Reagor able to shake free once or twice to make a play.
A handful of Ohio State corners mostly struggling in man coverage (Arnette/Wade) before eventually having to turn to Okudah is as promising of an indicator as there is. There‘s three takeaways you should have from this tape:
1) Reagor has a very polished release that allows him to win vs. physical coverage outside. (This is vital)
2) He has the ball skills to make contested catches, and is clearly comfortable winning in tight coverage. (He’s clearly no Agholor)
3) An offense can design an entire game plan around him—this tape is a taste of how Doug will use him week-to-week, as we saw TCU clearly try to get him the ball on all three levels as much as possible; we saw a heavy dose of manufactured touches (bubble screens, jet sweeps, etc.) that we can expect to see in Doug’s play script.
You could really add on to that—good blocking, good body positioning through routes, competitive, good hands—but those are the three conclusions that should settle any concerns you have about his pro-transition, and ability to play outside.