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2020 NFL Draft: Jalen Reagor a late first round option for the 49ers?

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The TCU product presents plenty of risk, but the reward might be worth it.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 TCU at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mock drafts are heating up as we get closer to the big day, and more and more of them are starting to suggest the possibility that the consensus top three wide receivers in the draft - CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs - might all be gone by the time the 49ers make their first selection and number 13. If that happens, the 49ers might be forced to use that selection on a position other than wideout, or possibly trade back, pushing their first pick outside of the top 20.

And if that happens, and they still want to address their need for a big play wide receiver, there is one name that they may want to give serious consideration to:

Jalen Reagor.

Speed

Safe to say you can check this box with Reagor. He ran a 4.47 at the combine, which may not be considered elite next to Henry Ruggs, but it’s plenty fast. Need to see it to believe it? I present to you Exhibit A:

Still not convinced? Check out this DB sneaking a peak into the backfield for a split second. Reagor makes him pay.

Production

Some might count Reagor’s low production in his three years at TCU as a strike against him, but after watching the tape, it seems that the culprit wasn’t Reagor’s lack of talent, it was inconsistent QB play. You could fill a stat book with the yardage and touchdowns Reagor left on the field due to poorly thrown balls.

Here Reagor toasts the DB, creating seven yards of separation and an easy path to six points. Instead, the QB throws it high and outside. Reagor does an amazing job of adjusting to the pass and fully extending to make the play, but it should’ve been a 66-yard walk-in TD.

Same game. Draws the DB in, blows by him, five yards of separation, QB sails it. Another 22 yds and a TD left off the stat sheet.

Hands

A bit of a mixed bag as Reagor did struggle with drops at times, but he also showed the ability to make catches from just about any angle. It doesn’t hurt that he has a 42 inch vertical (tied with Henry Ruggs for 2nd best overall at the combine), which allows him to high point the ball in contested situations and, as mentioned previously, to adjust to poorly thrown balls from the QB. Here’s a perfect example of Reagor doing just that:

Incredible focus here as the pass sails directly into the DB’s hands, Reagor out jumps him from behind and somehow comes down with the ball.

Route Running

Excellent route-running skills, though he did have a somewhat basic route tree at TCU. Reagor can create separation easily in both man and zone coverage. Here in zone, Reagor gets to the first down marker and settles into open space. Unfortunately, the QB zips it over his head.

My favorite play of Reagor’s here against Texas Tech. The double move leaves the DB completely turned around, wide open in the end zone, the ball is thrown high and behind, makes a nice adjustment, and hauls it.

Punt Returns

A little bit of added value with Reagor is his ability to return punts. Richie James handled the responsibilities last season and is set to do it again unless a replacement is found. If the 49ers did draft Reagor, they would definitely want to consider giving him a crack at the job.

Not crazy about the fumble at the beginning of this one but the end result is nice.

The Bad

We talked about his issues with drops - he had nine last season - and that’s something he is definitely going to need to address, though contrary to popular belief, it is a fixable trait. Amari Cooper had 18 drops - a whopping 20% drop rate - his rookie year, and 17% as recently as 2017, but the change of scenery (and QB) has done him wonders, and he has posted respectable numbers (5.6% and 4.2%) over the past two seasons.

Reagor also put up a pretty awful 3-cone time at the combine (7.31), which might not fly with Shanahan, but DK Metcalf ran a 7.38 3-cone last year, and he had a fine rookie year.

And last but not least - say it with me - he played in the Big 12. The conference has a bad reputation for producing overrated wide receiver prospects based on the lack of defense, and it’s definitely an earned reputation. Reagor has had the majority of his success against Big 12 teams, but he did have seven receptions for 98 yards against Ohio St last year, so he can at least compete against better opponents.

The Final Word

By all accounts, Jalen Reagor is expected to go in the back third of the first round, and that makes sense. On tape, Reagor is right up there with Jerry Jeudy when it comes to speed, separation, and route-running ability. Terrible QB play severely limited his statistics and may have caused the issues with drops as well. The ceiling is incredibly high with Jalen Reagor, but his floor is probably much lower than the other top prospects at the position as well. In the end, I think with the right team, the right coaching staff, and a decent QB, Jalen Reagor could find himself producing in the NFL like a true number one receiver, sooner rather than later.