INDIANAPOLIS — The nation’s 165th-leading receiver, who happens to measure in shy of 5-foot-11, is talking at the 2020 NFL scouting combine like a young man who expects to go quite high in this year’s draft.
That’s because TCU’s Jalen Reagor shouldn’t be judged merely by his receiving stats after being held back in a limited Horned Frogs passing game the past two years, especially in the 2019 season. (And keep reading to hear what his father, a former NFL player, had to say about that.)
Even with the constraints working against him, Reagor has shown NFL scouts his special talents in the open field that belie his 611 receiving yards and five TDs in 12 games from last season.
If there’s a stat that Reagor might be able to hang his hat on, it could come on Thursday night in prime time. Asked what kind of time he could register in the 40-yard dash that night, the blazing Reagor didn’t hold back.
“High 4.2s, low 4.3s,” Reagor said confidently.
Many have pegged Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III as the 40 favorite, with Penn State WR KJ Hamler and Utah CB Javelin Guidry as possible contenders for the fastest time in 2020. But Reagor thinks he can best Ruggs for the top mark.
“That’s my plan,” Reagor said at the combine on Tuesday. “[Ruggs] runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”
Eventual No. 9 overall pick John Ross set the all-time mark in the test in 2017, running a 4.22-second 40. Since 2006, only 13 wide receivers have turned in a time of 4.33 seconds or better.
If Reagor joins that group, it would be impressive for one other reason. He showed up at the combine at a surprising 206 pounds on his 5-foot-10 5/8 frame. TCU listed Reagor this past season at 195 pounds, and NFL scouts expected him to show up right around that number.
Adding 10 pounds was by design, Reagor said.
“That’s about where I want to play at, 205,” he said. “So it feels like a steady weight. I can still be explosive, still fast, still [able to] separate.
“I wouldn’t say [I had to] build up to , but I was already around there. So I had to drink a little bit of water. I was good.”
Reagor mentions a WR-needy team showing interest
In our pre-combine mock draft, we had Reagor falling to the Green Bay Packers near the end of Round 2. Of course, we might need to update that significantly if he runs such an elite time at a heavier weight. Perhaps he’d even be an option for the Packers with their first-round pick, No. 30 overall.
Asked about the Packers’ interest in him, Reagor said he thinks Green Bay is a potential landing spot for him.
“I have talked to the Packers,” Reagor said. “I feel like there is a lot of interest. They seem like they like me. We watched some film. They seem pretty interested.”
The Packers made the NFC title game despite being in the middle of the pack in yards per reception and 20-yard catches last season. They need to provide more big-play receivers for Aaron Rodgers as he reaches the twilight of his career.
Reagor feels he has that extra juice the Packers — or pretty much any other team — could use.
“Just being able to take the top off the defense every play,” he said. “I’m a big play waiting to happen. I can separate at will, get off press coverage and I can make immediate impact.”
It’s going to take a lot for him to enter the discussion of being the first wide receiver drafted. But running that fast will certainly move him up the ladder in a crowded WR class.
Son of a defensive lineman
Fascinatingly, Reagor is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Montae Reagor, who was 6-foot-3 and played in the 280-290 pound range, winning a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. His son just happened to have a wildly different body type than dad.
“It’s not like his mom was small or anything, she’s like 5-foot-6,” Montae Reagor told Yahoo Sports a few weeks ago. “Jalen just got a different body than me. But I was a tight end back in high school, so maybe he got that little part of me and some of his mom, who ran track and was a good athlete, too.”
And despite not being blessed with dad’s mass, Montae Reagor said his son has been destined for greatness since early on.
“I knew at a very young age he was going to do something special,” Montae Reagor said. “I didn’t know what. Anything he attempted at a young age, he accomplished. He took care of business in school, was not at all a problem child.
“He was just a mature kid at a very young age. Very passionate and persistent in anything he chased. I never pushed him in anything, even football. It was all him just going after what he loved. When he was a senior in high school — just seeing some of the cuts he made and the burst he showed — I said, ‘He’s going to be a better player than I was at the next level.’ ”
How the combine could cancel out Reagor’s frustration at TCU
Jalen Reagor has been training for years with Dallas-based receivers coach David Robinson, who expects nothing short of fireworks from his study when the combine workouts get underway. Robinson has been at Reagor’s side for his combine training at EXOS in Frisco, Texas, and has seen the results firsthand.
“He’s going to run plenty fast,” Robinson said, “something in the 4.3 range.”
Robinson said he has spoken to NFL evaluators who have compared Reagor to 2019 Kansas City Chiefs second-rounder Mecole Hardman (who ran a 4.33 at last year’s combine) and 2019 Indianapolis Colts second-rounder Parris Campbell (who ran a 4.31). But Robinson believes Reagor is more polished than both.
“I have worked with Mecole, and Jalen is more polished, more clean in and out of his breaks, coming into the NFL,” Robinson said.
If there are knocks on Reagor, Robinson believes that the production and the byproduct of playing in a limited college passing game have drawn some criticism in Reagor’s game.
“With the quarterback issue, I could tell he was a bit frustrated there running his routes,” Robinson said. “He’d be open deep and the the ball would be underthrown, or they wouldn’t see him open. That’s where the talk [got started] of him taking plays off. It’s hard being a receiver, busting your tail, and you can’t get the ball.”
Montae Reagor agreed with Robinson on Jalen’s combine projections.
“They’re going to see at the combine,” Montae said. “They can talk about all these other receivers. My son is the best receiver in this class. They’ll know it when they see him work out. He’s strong and he’s fast.
“His broad jump, his vertical [jump], his 40 ... and let me tell you something, he’s going to look the smoothest of all those receivers,” Montae said. “I told him not to worry. They’ll be talking about him after the combine. Right now, they’re just going off the [receiving numbers].”
Montae also agrees with Robinson’s assessment of the limitations in TCU’s offense holding Jalen back.
“You can’t throw yourself the ball and catch it,” Montae said. “... That’s why you don’t see him that high in those mock drafts.”
Perhaps those mock drafts will look different in a few days’ time.
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