Why the Eagles changed course from Justin Jefferson to Jalen Reagor

Dave Zangaro
NBC Sports Philadelphia

On the day the NFL draft started back in April, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein released his final first-round mock draft and had the Eagles taking Jalen Reagor at pick No. 21, citing sources saying the Eagles were "enamored by Reagor's speed and explosive potential." 

Nailed it. 

On Tuesday, Zierlein was a guest on the Eagle Eye podcast and while he was quick to point out that his decision was much easier because he had Justin Jefferson going one spot ahead of them, he knew the Eagles had real interest in Reagor. 

Zierlein, who is very plugged into the scouting community, explained that he began to hear of that interest around the time Reagor held his virtual pro day in early April. 

"I had heard through a little birdie that Howie (Roseman) was very, very aware of the workout, had all the details of the workout, all the times, all the explosive numbers, things like that," Zierlein said. 

While Reagor ran a 4.47 at the combine, he reportedly ran in the 4.2s at his individual workout. While Zierlein is somewhat skeptical of those times - he said it's probably fair to add .10 to every virtual pro day time - he thinks Reagor plays with 4.3 speed. Reagor's virtual workout happened at Plex in Houston with longtime trainer Danny Arnold, the same guy who has been working out Jadeveon Clowney recently. 

It was just one of those situations where the Eagles wanted to add the speed element and there were only a certain number of true explosive speed players in this draft that you could see going in the first two rounds. Beside (Henry) Ruggs, and I think had Ruggs been there, they would have been all over Ruggs, but he wasn't there. And I think Jalen Reagor kind of came up later in the process. I don't think he was a guy that they were looking at. I had heard Justin Jefferson tied with them quite a bit. 

"And for me, I had Jefferson going at No. 20 in the mock draft that you're mentioning, which is why it was easier putting Reagor to 21 with the Eagles. Had Justin Jefferson in my mock fallen there, and it turns out he was available there, they still went with (Reagor) … I was told that Justin Jefferson was their guy early in the process but then late I know they fell in love with the speed of Reagor and his ability to work short, middle, deep and that's why I ended up placing Reagor there. I didn't know for sure they'd take him, but I knew they liked him. I just didn't know for sure he'd go at 21.

Jefferson ended up going to the Vikings at No. 22 and has since vowed to make every team that passed on him for other receivers pay. The Eagles, who took Reagor at 21, are obviously at the top of his list. 

Jefferson and Reagor are two very different players. While Zierlein thought Reagor's combine 40 was too slow based on play speed, he thought Jefferson's was too fast. Jefferson is the surer thing; Reagor has more upside. 

"I think from an explosive playmaker standpoint, that's Jalen Reagor," Zierlein said. "If you want to ask me higher ceiling, lower floor, Reagor's got a higher ceiling, lower floor. But if you're looking to hit a double, Justin Jefferson's the double."

Check out the entire interview here:  

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Why the Eagles changed course from Justin Jefferson to Jalen Reagor originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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