What exactly are the Vikings getting in ex-Eagles WR Jalen Reagor?

·3 min read

With the 21st pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected TCU receiver Jalen Reagor. One pick later, the Minnesota Vikings took LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. In the two seasons since, Jefferson has firmly established himself as one of the league’s best receivers, while Reagor has… well, not.

Perhaps Reagor can pick up a few points from Jefferson, as the two first-round receivers are now teammates. On Wednesday, the Eagles sent Reagor to Minnesota in a trade. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Philly gets 2023 seventh-round NFL draft pick and a 2024 conditional fourth-round pick that would downgrade to a fifth-round pick if certain statistical marks are not met.

When you’re willing to cut bait with a first-round pick just two full seasons into his NFL career, that’s not a great sign. Over those two seasons, Reagor had caught 65 passes on 110 targets for 697 yards and three touchdowns. In 2021 alone, Jefferson caught 108 passes on 163 targets for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Reagor is already in the “prove-it” phase of his career, while Jefferson has already proven everything he needs do. With Jefferson as the obvious No. 1 in the Vikings’ offense, it’s worth seeing how new head coach Kevin O’Connell and his staff can make the most out of Reagor as a second (or third) banana.

One thing Reagor will have to clean up are the drops. Last season, he was responsible for five dropped passes, and some of them were real howlers. Against the Giants in Week 12, Reagor (No. 18) is trying to work with quarterback Jalen Hurts on a scramble drill. Reagor does get open over time, but you can’t raise your hand to your quarterback with the full Keyshawn Johnson “Throw me the damn ball” thing, and then just muff it like this. This also brings up Reagor’s issues in gaining separation from coverage.

Reagor can be both athletic with his routes, and acrobatic to get the ball, as he showed on this play in the same game.

Reagor can also be an effective runner on sweeps and other backfield color plays, as he showed on this 12-yard run against the Chiefs in Week 4. He’s gained 58 yards on 14 carries through his NFL career, and since O’Connell comes straight from the Sean McVay tree (he was the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2020 and 2021), you’d expect to see some offshoots of that sweep game, which in McVay’s hands has become one of the NFL’s most effective.

And while he’s nobody’s idea of an elite route-runner in the Jefferson mold, Reagor does have the raw speed to either beat a defender on a deep crosser (this 24-yard catch against the Cowboys in Week 3)…

…or to take a simple screen for a 34-yard gain by just blasting through space (Week 15 against the Commanders).

Reagor is not the transcendent talent the Eagles thought they were getting when they made him a first-round pick. But if the Vikings maximize his abilities (speed, quickness, base agility), and minimize his liabilities (focus drops, route correctness), they could have an interesting new piece in an offense that O’Connell has said he wants to open up and make more expansive.

In that capacity, Reagor could make the most of things sooner than later.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire