Philadelphia Eagles: Full Nelson


About a month ago, I published my one and only Philadelphia Eagles mock draft:

Round Two (Pick #52): Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

Fortunately for Mr. Agholor… his stock just kept rising and rising.

Fortunately for the Eagles… he was on the board at #20.

While I was wrong about the round, the fit is still impeccable.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles tried very hard to keep Jeremy Maclin in the fold. They were willing to pay him a reported $9 million. But the Chiefs went up to $11 million and priced the Eagles out of contention.

At that moment, it was clear that the Eagles lacked some talent and some veteran presence at the wide receiver position. Their desire to keep Maclin made it crystal clear that these were tools the Eagles felt they needed and wanted and were sure to try to replace.

Miles Austin was signed, a few weeks ago, as a savvy veteran who’s more than capable of setting a good example for what was sure to be a young group of receivers.

And last night Nelson Agholor was added to replace Maclin’s talent.

And it’s hard to imagine someone better able to do it:

The two receivers are nearly identical in size and proportion. In speed: the same. Both were explosive punt returners and dynamic receivers in college and both are considered tremendous people and teammates.

Where Agholor differs, ever-so-slightly, from Maclin are in areas that should make him an even better fit in Chip Kelly’s offense.

Agholor is a better red-zone target because, despite his not being a huge receiver, he loves going over the middle and seems to welcome contact.

November 22, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) runs the ball against the UCLA Bruins during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Similarly, the kid loves to block. Somehow, in the midst of a 104 catch season at USC last year, Agholor was also used, occasionally, as a pure outside blocker.

As a skilled punt returned, Agholor also possesses terrific run-after-catch ability and while I think he plays slightly slower than his 4.42 forty time without the football… He seems to play slightly faster than that time once he’s got the ball in his hands.

But Agholor’s greatest strength, beyond question, is his route running ability. He is this draft class’ best route runner and has a knack for it that you rarely see in college receivers. USC has an offense that allows receivers to run complex and widely varied routes and Agholor lined up everywhere and ran them all with aplomb.

Enough of taking my word for it: Here’s a little college tape. Keep in mind that this is not a highlight tape. This is simply game footage (the kind of footage scouts and coaches might watch to evaluate a player.) This is just a snap by snap look at one of Agholor’s games last season.

Play One: Run-after-catch.

Play Two: Tremendous outside blocking.

Play Three: Lining up in the backfield (versatility) and showing excellent hands.

And it just keeps going from there: Sharp routes, bursts of speed, strength… he shows off the full range of why he was a top-20 pick in the NFL Draft.

Oh, and he is going to be playing for Chip Kelly. So work-ethic, preparation, and desire to improve every day are going to need to be focal points of Agholor’s life. What did coach Kelly have to say about Agholor with regards to that after the Eagles picked him last night?

"“I guess the best way to say it is he’s just dialed in as a football player.  He’s in the Jordan Matthews category in terms of his approach to the game.  Always striving to be better.  I think the great thing about Nelson is he has a growth mindset, and not a fixed mindset. He’s always trying to get better.  What is his edge?  You talk to the people he worked out with – I know he worked out Yo Murphy, a former NFL receiver that was training him down there in Tampa.  And he’s like a sponge when it’s just the game of football.  When he came here and we had him on a visit here, we were in the room with him for a long time because of the questions he had for us about, ‘How do we attack this coverage, and what do we do here?’  He’s one of those guys that’s really a student of the game.  I think you get excited when you’re around guys like that.  He’s just trying to soak up everything that you can spit out in terms of being able to give him coaching points.  He’s always trying to get better, whether it’s from a physical standpoint, improving himself physically, or a route-running standpoint, or just a mind standpoint in terms of how to run routes, how to do things and how does he fit into the scheme.  So really exactly what we’re looking for in a football player.”"

Welcome to Philadelphia, Nelson Agholor. Eagles fans will love this kid and love this player. He just, plain, fits.

And the Eagles wide receiver position, suddenly, looks like it has the chance to be awfully special.

Next: ”Eagles