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
TCU clearly wants to get him touches early and often.
Suck the defense with screens on the first series, hit them deep on he next.
Reagor beats Arnette time and time again, compelling a change for Ohio St. in the second half.
It’s a lot of Okudah on Reagor from here on out.
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.