The story’s been told a few hundred times now, but for conversatio’s saken, let’s tell it once more. In 2020, on the first night of the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles were on the clock, and with Justin Jefferson still on the board, they ignored him in favor of Jalen Reagor. There isn’t a Birds fan in the Delaware Valley or anywhere else on Planet Earth that doesn’t know how that decision turned out.
At last count, Reagor’s only been able to muster 64 receptions, 695 career receiving yards, and three trips to the end zone in 28 games with 24 starts. That equates to somewhere around six or seven games worth of work for the more talented Jefferson.
Justin has appeared in 33 regular-season games with 31 starts. That’s resulted in 196 receptions, 3,016 receiving yards, and 17 trips to paydirt. He’s even racked up 16 yards and a touchdown on seven career rushing attempts en route to a Pro Bowl nod in each of his first two seasons. You do the math. Philly clearly missed the mark on this one.
What if the Eagles were allowed an NFL Draft re-do? What might happen then?
If only life had a reset button like the old Sega Genesis gaming console. Then again, even if we could teleport ourselves back to that night, there’s no guarantee that Philly would land Jefferson in a draft reboot.
Knowing what we know now, Jefferson probably wouldn’t make it to the 21st-overall selection. Whenever we’ve seen someone reimagine the 2020 selection meeting, he hasn’t.
Back in April, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine dropped his theory. Jefferson went to the Detroit Lions at the third-overall selection while the Eagles wound up with Jalen Hurts at 21.
Yes, you read that correctly. Hurts rises into Round 1 and STILL ends up in the City of Brotherly Love. Recently, FanSided’s own Sayre Bedinger cooked up another set of theories in a 2020 NFL Draft reboot of his own. The Birds, as you might expect, miss out on Jefferson again. He lands with the Carolina Panthers at the seventh-overall selection.
Philly still winds up with a better option than Jalen Reagor. They land Chase Claypool with the 21st-overall selection. Here’s some of what Bedinger has to say on the subject as his reason for sending the former Notre Dame star to the midnight green:
"The Philadelphia Eagles’ investment in Jalen Reagor has not paid off. Reagor, as a matter of fact, could be on the trade block this offseason.Even though the Eagles now have DeVonta Smith and AJ Brown, adding a big body and vertical threat like Chase Claypool could have been a lot of fun.Claypool is almost six-foot-four (and) 240 pounds and can blaze by defenders with his sub-4.4 speed.The Steelers utilized him incredibly well in his rookie season with 11 total touchdowns but his production there took a dip in 2021. He should continue to be a featured piece of their offense in 2022 and could eclipse 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career."
Say what you want about Reagor. In a way, Philly’s well-documented snafu set off a chain of events that may lead to better days for the organization at the wide receiver position. Dare we say that a rose grew from the concrete or things may have worked out how they should have?
Had Philly not taken Reagor, they probably wouldn’t have taken Reagor in Round 1 a year later, and had that not happened, Howie Roseman and company may not have struck the deal during the first round of the most recent draft that brought A.J. Brown to hand.
It took them long enough. Tears were shed during the Eagles’ version of the process, but seeing Brown line up on the opposite side of the formation from Smith will be a sight for sore eyes.
Claypool in a midnight green jersey wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Jefferson might feel like the one that got away, but we’re satisfied with A.J. and DeVonta.
Kick your feet up. Allow yourself a smile. You’ve earned it. Finally, this team has two capable receivers that scare opposing defenses on the outside.