The Philadelphia Eagles missed out on the big fish, and ended up reeling in a middling trout. Kelly and his staff selected wide receiver Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick in the draft, in a year where only one trade was made prior to the Eagles pick.
While Chip Kelly’s offseason plan has thus far pleasantly surprised Eagles fans, the departure of Jeremy Maclin left a hole in many hearts. Maclin, the team’s top receiver by far in 2014, scooped up a large contract from Kansas City, as said in our Maclin open forum. A week later, reports surfaced that University of Southern California receiver Nelson Agholor would be visiting the Eagles for a pre-draft workout. Now that Agholor has been taken by the Eagles, he would seemingly fit perfectly into Jeremy Maclin’s number 18 jersey, playing a similar style Maclin does.
In a stellar 16-catch performance versus California, Agholor showed off why he deserves to be given significant playing time in his first pro season. First of all, Agholor proved that he has solid hands, nearly catching everything thrown his way en route to a double-digit reception performance. Agholor also proved he was a more than capable blocker, locking up cornerbacks on both run and short pass plays. Another rare aspect of Agholor’s game is his large catch radius: Agholor used his long frame to catch passes, a few of which were at the top of his reach well above his head. Albeit with free releases off the line of scrimmage, Agholor was able to use his sound route-running skills to create spaces in the California zone to catch the ball in. With teams frustrating the Eagles at times by playing zone coverage, Agholor’s crisp route-running may be just what Chip Kelly needs to break the demons of the zone defense.
Our friend Walter Cherepinsky at WalterFootball.com ranked Agholor as the eleventh best receiver prospect—in what’s said to be a loaded receiver class—and projects Agholor as a second or third round selection. Cherepinsky compared Agholor to “other USC prospects” such as Jaguars wide receiver Marquise Lee, stating:
Agholor is a quick receiver who lacks elite speed or size, but he is a good route-runner who is skilled after the catch. Agholor also could contribute on special teams in the NFL.
Agholor resembles Jeremy Maclin in many aspects of his game. Against California, Agholor was used on numerous bubble screens, and used his agility after the catch to create yardage. Similarly, Maclin—and Jordan Matthews, for that matter—were often used on bubble screens, since both offer a similar craftiness in the open field, and in the red zone. Though none of the there receivers boast elite speed, they all have the ability to shrug off defensive backs and run past outside defenders, and create extra yards after the catch. Malin and Agholor also recorded nearly identical 40-yad dash times, with Agholor beating Maclin by .03 seconds.
Agholor’s ability to block, catch the passes thrown his way, and create after the catch will guarantee him snaps on the first team offense early on in his NFL career. His skill set fits what the Eagles like in receivers, and with some major question marks at the position, Jeremy Maclin’s alter ego may be just what the Eagles need.