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Rookie Player Profile: Nelson Agholor

SWOT

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Strengths

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If you enjoy players who are smart and studios, you will simply love this kid. I’m a sucker for humble and intelligent youngsters who understand they haven’t done anything yet and Agholor proved he was one of them in his introductory press conference in Philadelphia. On the field, his combination of acceleration and agility is stunning. He played a lot of running back in high school and it shows when he has the ball in his hands. The electricity led to a lot of production and in his final year at USC he had a whopping 104 receptions and was named first-team All-PAC-12. Rich Hribar at The Fake Football offered a great profile, looking at measurables, comparisons and examples of good plays, noting he was “nuclear over his final seven games, posting six receptions for 90 or more receiving yards in six of those final seven games, averaging 8.8 receptions for 129.7 yards with seven scores.”

Weaknesses

It is hard to find faults in his game outside of lacking the prototypical size and body type of a ‘dominant’ wide receiver. His versatility is great, but it often pays to be really strong in one area (specifically as a red zone threat when discussing the game’s top receivers) rather than being good in many. Technically, he can improve his catching – he had some drops, body catches and double-clutches and can also get cleaner with his hands. He can also sometimes be choppy with his feet when he should just use his pure acceleration, but that decisiveness and efficiency may be improved in Philly’s ‘get upfield’ offense. I was slow to buy into his game on tape as he doesn’t immediately stand out, but it was his consistency and big-play ability that turned me around (much like Allen Robinson last year).

Opportunities

There will be great opportunities to thrive in Chip Kelly’s prolific offense. Last year, the group quietly broke the team record for points scored in a season, but those records weren’t good enough. Kelly wants more. After a huge turnaround on the offensive side of the ball, we have an idea of what they will look like, but we don’t really know yet who will be the point scorers and where the ball will go. The third-year head coach has always emphasised an “equal opportunities scoring offense” and I expect Agholor will be given his chances to shine early and often.

Threats

There are a number of things that will affect Agholor’s production, starting with the quarterback. The introduction of Sam Bradford is a huge risk for the Eagles, and if things don’t work out the team could falter. Conversely, with the number of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, the rookie might just not be able to beat out the guys in front of him and see enough targets or touches to have an impact. Jordan Matthews is largely viewed as the top fantasy receiver in Philadelphia, so Agholor may have to play second fiddle to the sophomore. It also seems that the additions of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews mean the team will look to have a run-heavy attack, which might not allow for strong fantasy seasons from their receivers.

Short-term Expectations

He has returned punts throughout his college career, so may work into the rotation with sparkplug Darren Sproles. In the offense, I believe the team will ‘manufacture’ touches for him early on. We have seen the downfalls with players who rely on touches being made for them (Percy Harvin, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson), but that shouldn’t be confused with a young player being given the chance to make something happen with the ball in his hands. If he can get acclimated to the offense early, I see no reason why he can’t step into a starting role. One piece of offseason advice for those following Eagles news: don’t pay attention to training camp reports from Philadelphia saying “Agholor running with the first team” or even “rookie stuck with the third-stringers” – Chip Kelly has made it adamantly clear that he rotates all players to get opportunities to run with every different set of players. Only once the season starts will we know who his real ‘first-teamers’ are.

Long-term Expectations

In a recent Voxer conversation with our own Nick Whalen, he mentioned the similarities between Agholor and Matthews as quality young route runners, catchers and ‘high character’ guys. I whole-heartedly agree and believe this duo will complement each other for many years to come. They ran similar 40 yard dashes (4.42 and 4.46) and both have the ability to play inside and outside. Matthews said they are “like twins” and Agholor remarked that the second-year wideout “feels like a brother already.” The first two years under Chip Kelly have shown the Eagles can carry multiple top dynasty assets, and Agholor will be one of them for the foreseeable future.

NFL Comparison

A round up of ESPN and NFL Network reactions to Agholor’s selection included Michael Irvin commenting the first rounder had a similar game to Randall Cobb as a potential “four-down player” and comparisons to (coincidentally) former Eagle Jeremy Maclin. I definitely see similarities between the two in body type and college play (Maclin had great versatility and returned punts and kicks in college); however, I believe the USC product’s return skills will translate better at the pro level. Matt Waldman called him “a more polished version of Marqise Lee” and Eagles writer Jimmy Kempski compared him to a current Denver receiver. Agholor himself said he crafts his game around Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald; admiring their ability to play effectively on the inside and the outside.

Projected Range for a Rookie Draft

In my Eagles Draft Review, I tracked Agholor’s rise from a late second round rookie pick in March to a post-draft ADP of six. Unless you are in a 2QB, superflex or non-PPR league, he will most likely be going in the top half of the first round. In Jeff Haverlack’s latest high stakes FFPC Draft Review, we even saw him go at number five overall. You will likely need to invest in him, but if he falls out of that top half; I think he is great value.

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James Simpson
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