The 2021 wide receiver class is unlike any other we’ve seen before, some of the top prospects didn’t take the field at all in 2020, some only played in a six game season and some have probably declared for the draft slightly too early given the unusual way of the world at present.
Brennan Eagles probably falls into the latter category. The junior receiver led the Texas Longhorns’ in receiving in 2020, but still failed to top 500 yards on the season. However, even if he has declared a year too early, Eagles has a ton of potential to utilise at the next level.
A former four-star recruit from Houston, Eagles was ranked the 6th overall prospect out of Texas in the 2018 cycle and joined four of the five higher ranked players on the Longhorns roster. He gained that high ranking based on a big Junior year in High School, suffering a shoulder injury that cut his senior season short.
Eagles barely troubled the stat sheet in his freshman season, making only one catch. Instead he put his head down, contributed on special teams and learnt his craft from Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson, all of whom are now playing on Sunday afternoons.
In 2019 and 2020, Eagles enjoyed fairly similar seasons, starting the majority of Texas’ games as the predominant outside receiver, and hauling in around 30 catches for around 500 yards. That production volume has understandably raised a few question marks in pre-draft evaluations, part of which is clearly on Eagles himself, but it is also arguable that erratic quarterback play from Sam Ehlingher didn’t always put his receiving core in a position to succeed.
Across his college career, the Alief Taylor alum lined up mostly on the right side of the Longhorns’ offense, a role that suited his 6’4”, 225lb frame and allowed his physical attributes to really shine. That’s who Eagles is a player, he’s strong at the catch point, using his body to box out defensive backs and then maintaining his balance to come down in bounds.
With 33.5” arms his catch radius is huge, and despite recording eight drops across two seasons, Eagles possesses soft hands which he uses well to reel in catches away from his body. Because of his size and stature, the Longhorns’ offense relied on him to move the chains, targeting him regularly on third and medium. That paid off, and through the 2020 season QBs had a passer rating of 133.9 when targeting him, the best in the Big XII.
As a former 100 & 200 metre high school competitor, it is probably best to describe Eagles as having ‘long speed’. He comes out of the blocks fairly slowly, but his long strides help him to gather pace and maintain it further down the field, something that a quick finishing 4.55s 40 yard time attests to. Interestingly, some of his more memorable plays as a Longhorn were long distance touchdowns, including a 55 yard catch and run against LSU in 2019.
For someone with limited college production, Eagles has a well developed route tree consisting mainly of medium or deep routes – something that his 16.8ypc average attests to. However, the manner in which he runs his routes will need to be sharpened at the next level, as he doesn’t transition sharply at all at present and he doesn’t create separation as a result.
After the catch the Texas native is a mixed bag. Given his frame and the aggression with which he plays the game, Eagles is a bruiser with the ball in his hands, he’s not afraid to lower the shoulder and run over smaller defensive backs whenever he gets the chance. However, his lack of agility and acceleration means that it isn’t likely you’ll see a repeat of the touchdown vs LSU every time he comes down with a catch.
All of the above means that It’s fair to say that Eagles is an intriguing prospect. Interestingly expandtheboxscore.com’s Athletic Success Indicator has him ranked 5th amongst this year’s wide receivers, meaning Eagles possesses a substantial amount of traits that have helped other receivers succeed in the NFL.
Now time to let you in on some results, starting with WR— ExpandTheBoxscore.com (@XTBoxscore) April 10, 2021
WR Top 5:
Elijah Moore (100)
Anthony Schwartz (94.5)
JaMarr Chase (85.3)
Rondale Moore (81.3)
Brennan Eagles (80.3
WR Bottom 5:
D. Fitzpatrick (0)
M. Stevenson (2.1)
T. Grimes (2.8)
S. Smith (11.1)
D. Eskridge (13.0)
The Full 10 Yards Draft Guide has Eagles projected as a fifth round pick, but with the depth of this year’s class it is very possible that he slips further on day three, potentially even going undrafted. However, given the right development there’s no doubting he has the potential to be a contributor in the NFL.
By Andy Moore – @ajmoore21