- The Philadelphia Eagles appear ready to admit defeat on the Jalen Reagor pick
- Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts will benefit from having Quez Watkins receive more snaps
- The Eagles should continue regretting selecting Reagor over Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson
The Philadelphia Eagles made two especially risky picks during the 2020 NFL Draft. General manager Howie Roseman used a first-round pick on TCU receiver Jalen Reagor and selected Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts over 30 picks later.
Hurts has at least shined at times and is still trying to prove he’s worthy of being the next great Eagles quarterback. However, whatever the Heisman Trophy finalist does in the long term might not involve Reagor.
Quez Watkins played more snaps than Jalen Reagor in the Eagles’ Week 5 victory
After an inconsistent rookie season, Reagor hauled in six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ Week 1 victory over Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. It finally appeared as if the 21st overall pick in the 2020 draft, a receiver who only played 45% of the team’s snaps last year, arrived.
So much for that. Although the second-year wideout had 11 catches for 91 yards in the team’s next four games, he mostly lacked any sort of dynamic impact either on offense or as a returner.
The same can’t be said for Quez Watkins, the 200th overall selection in last year’s draft. Operating as more of a deep-threat weapon, the Southern Miss product entered a Week 6 showdown against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 13 catches and 267 yards to his name in 2021.
His 20.5 yards per reception led all NFL players through the end of Week 5. Hurts and Watkins connected at least twice in each of the Eagles’ first five games.
First-year Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni appears to have seen enough of both players. Watkins out-snapped Reagor, 55-47, in the Eagles’ 21-18 road victory over Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers in Week 5.
The Eagles can save their 2021 season by letting Hurts keep throwing to Watkins
If Reagor had blossomed as a rookie or even done enough to leave the Eagles feeling optimistic, maybe Roseman and Sirianni wouldn’t have selected Alabama’s DeVonta Smith 10th overall earlier this year. Considering the reigning Heisman Trophy winner contributed 25 catches, 314 yards, and a touchdown in his first five NFL games, the Eagles likely aren’t complaining about how things turned out in that regard.
Reagor, however, is a different story. Although he still, in theory, has plenty of time to turn things around, he hasn’t yet given the Eagles enough reason to feel confident about his chances.
The Eagles entered Week 6 at 2-3 in an NFC East division that, as of now, belongs to Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. However, injuries around the rest of the NFC and a seventh playoff seed give Hurts and teammates a chance at sneaking into the postseason.
Even if this fall eventually does become a developmental season, part of that involves letting Hurts work through his first full campaign as a starter. Naturally, part of that process involves seeing which weapons he builds natural connections and relationships with, and Watkins is emerging as one of those players.
However, if you think we’re going to admit there is no shame in the Eagles admitting defeat this early, it’s time to address the Viking helmet-wearing elephant in the room.
The Eagles’ decision to take Reagor over Justin Jefferson will always sting
Through his first 16 career games, Reagor recorded 48 catches for 536 yards and two touchdowns. Remember, he went 21st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the Minnesota Vikings selected LSU’s Justin Jefferson one pick later.
All Jefferson did as a rookie was haul in 88 catches for a rookie-record 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He opened the 2021 season with 33 receptions, 462 yards, and another three touchdowns. Across a 17-game season, that’s a 112-catch, 1,571-yard pace. Those are numbers that land players on the first-team All-Pro team.
If Eagles fans were baffled when Roseman opted for Reagor over Jefferson, who shined at LSU and won a national title in his final season, we can only imagine how they’re feeling now. The thought of Hurts throwing to Jefferson each week sounds beautiful on paper.
Well, the Eagles have Smith and Watkins, who represent the key to Hurts bringing his team back to the postseason. As for Reagor, at least he can still potentially contribute on special teams.