Thursday, 26 March 2015 00:00

Dynasty Wide Receiver Tier 2.0: Nelson Agholor

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Nelson Agholor v UCLA Nelson Agholor v UCLA Neon Tommy Flickr Page

Player: Nelson Agholor

School: University of Southern California

Position: Wide Receiver

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 198 lbs

Class: Sr.

Position Rank: 6

While I try and watch as much college football as possible, being from the midwest it makes it hard to watch sports that take place on the west coast due to the late start times. Because of the limited viewing possibilities I cannot form a proper opinion of some draft prospects. This year, USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor is a player that I may have been late to the party too, but after watching left a major impression on me. 

Strengths:

  • Exceptional Route-Runner
  • Legitimate Deep Threat
  • Well-Rounded Game
  • Hands Catcher
  • Special Teams Capabilities
  • Ability to Line Up at Multiple Places in an Offense
  • Attacks Top of Stem Well
  • Sinks into Breaks
  • High Motor Player
  • Should be Day 1 Contributor
  • Recognizes Soft Spots in Zone Coverage
  • Quick Twitch Player
  • Works Back to Football Well

Weaknesses:

  • Slight Frame, Lacks Prototypical No. 1 WR Size
  • Mediocre Run Blocker, Absorbs Hit Rather Than Deliver It
  • Struggles with Contested Catches
  • Lacks Elite Trait
  • Not a "Vertical"/Jump Ball Threat
  • Will Struggle in Red Zone

Collegiate Career

Although Agholor did not have the heralded college career like Alabama's Amari Cooper or Eastern Carolina's Justin Hardy, Agholor quietly established himself as one of the most pro-ready wide receivers during his final season as a Trojan. Through his first two seasons Agholor posted a total of 74 catches for 1,259 yards and 8 touchdown receptions in mostly a reserve role for the Trojan offense. 

During his sophomore season Agholor earned a starting spot opposite eventual Jaguars draft pick Marquise Lee. While Lee was battling lingering lower-body injuries, Agholor made the most of his opportunities, posting a team-high 918 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.

Not only did Agholor become the focal point of the Trojans passing offense with Lee sidelined but also displayed electric playmaking ability as a punt returner, averaging over 19 yards per return and bringing two back for scores. 

Agholor used the momentum gained from a strong sophomore season to become the clear-cut no. 1 receiving option for the Trojans passing attack his junior year posting a 104/1,313/12 line. Despite posting his lowest YPC average during his junior season Agholor showed more versatility to his game than being a situational deep-threat, showing the ability to use his quickness in the slot against safeties and linebackers.

    Receiving Rushing Scrimmage          
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD
*2012 USC Pac-12 FR WR 13 18 341 18.9 2
2013 USC Pac-12 SO WR 14 56 918 16.4 6
2014 USC Pac-12 JR WR 13 104 1313 12.6 12
Career USC         178 2572 14.4 20

 

Player Comarison: Jeremy Maclin

As far as Agholor's physical skill-set goes, I think that he will be better off as a high-end no. 2 wide receiver as opposed to being the focal point of a team's passing attack. Equipped with quick feet and an explosive burst off the line Agholor has the ability to not only beat defenders down the field, but make an impact on crossing routes and other routes designed to take advantage of players skills after the catch. 

 

The instant I turned on the tape of USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor I was immediately reminded of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Like Maclin, Agholor does not possess any elite traits that scouts look for in a no. 1 wide receiver at the next level, but does possess a well-rounded game that I believe translates to a high-end no. 2 receiver with the ability to make an impact in the slot.

 

 

Due to a dislocated finger suffered during on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine Agholor did not participate in any of the speed and agility drills, but like many expected showed above average speed (4.42/1.53) for a player with his his size.

Although Agholor was the main target of the Trojans passing game his Junior season (104 receptions) I do not see his skill-set translating to that of a bon-a-fide no. 1 wide receiver at the NFL level. That is not to say that Agholor can not become a valuable asset for an NFL offense as he possesses quick feet and the ability to run a full NFL route tree right out of college.  

One of the main reasons I see Agholor having early success in his career is because oh his refinement in the finer point of being a wide receiver, i.e. using leverage, route-running, and knowledge of the soft spots in zone-coverage. 

The benefit of playing at the University of Southern California is that it gives offensive players experience playing in a pro-style offensive system. Due to this experience Agholor has experience running a complete NFL route tree. Not only does Agholor have experience running NFL route concepts, but he is very polished as well, as Agholor runs each route with the same intensity and ferocity.

Fantasy Outlook

Like the majority of rookie receivers immediate fantasy success is largely dependent on the situation they are drafted into. However there are a few teams that I am going to out line that I believe Agholor could provide instant on-field production. 

  • Chicago Bears

Going into the 2014-15 season the Chicago Bears were a popular sleeper Super Bowl pick out of the NFC. However, "Smoking" Jay Cutler once again proved unable to take the reigns as a franchise signal caller, and the Marc Trestman experiment proved to be a disaster leading to a complete face lift for one of the leagues storied franchises. 

Going into the 2014-15 season the Bears wide receivers were considered to be one of the top units in the league. With Brandon Marshall and second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery catching passes in the Bears offense there was no reason to believe that they would be in a position to draft a wide receiver, unless it was for depth purposes. However, with Marshall now in New York playing for the Jets and Jeffery taking over as the team's no. 1 wide receiver the Bears could be in position to draft some young playmakers in the draft. 

New offensive coordinator Adam Gase has some experience with players of Agholor's skill-set. Last season Emmanuel Sanders posted 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and 9 touchdowns with Gase calling plays, all new career highs. While it would be foolish to expect the same kind of production from Agholor in his rookie season that Sanders did in his 6th season, I do feel there is room for Agholor to see extended playing time during his rookie season. 

  • Philadelphia Eagles

There is no better replacement in my mind for Jeremy Maclin than to replace him with a player that I feel nearly mirrors his playing style in Nelson Agholor. 

Head Coach Chip Kelly has made his fair share of head scratching moves this offseason. First Kelly shipped the franchise's leading rusher in LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso, a talented linebacker who missed the 2014-15 season with an ACL injury. It was thought with the extra cap space the Eagles front office would lock up wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. However Maclin decided to re-unite with former Eagles head coach Andy Reid to the tune of $11 million per season. 

With Maclin now gone the only two receivers that the Eagles have on the roster that saw significant playing time are second-year wide receiver Jordan Matthews and veteran Riley Cooper. Matthews showed some promise during his rookie season posting 67 receptions for 876 yards and 8 touchdowns, but he will need some help around him if he wants to take the next step in his development. 

In my opinion Agholor would be the perfect fit for Chip Kelly's up-tempo offensive scheme. Not only does he posses the ability to beat defenses vertically, but possesses a well-rounded game that has the ability to make plays at all three levels of the field. Due to his on-field awareness and ability to process things quickly I feel playing in a system that has multiple reads built in to each play like Kelly's does would do wonders for Agholor's progression in pro game. 

Draft Projection

I currently have Agholor rated as my number 6 wide receiver for the 2015 NFL Draft, and feel he possesses the ability to provide an instant impact to which ever team is lucky enough to land his services. Regardless of where Agholor ends up in the draft I feel he has the skill-set to be a day one contributor to an NFL offense due to his crisp routes and experience playing in a pro-style offensive system. 

For the most success I would like to see Agholor land in a system that emphasizes his versatility, lining him up at several different positions within their offense. While Agholor may never be the no. 1 wide receiver that teams look for, there is no doubt that Agholor has a skill-set that makes him valuable commodity around the league.

I expect Agholor to hear his name called anywhere on day 2 of the draft. Due to the concerns I have about his inability to be the bon-a-fide no.1 wide receiver for an offense, and his struggles making catches with defenders around him, I do not feel I can list Agholor in the same tier as guys like White, Cooper, Parker, and DGB. While Agholor may not possess the elite measruables that scouts and fans fall in love with, he does possess a very polished game for a college receiver and should provide instant production for whichever team draft him.  

Grade: 2nd Round

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy Flickr Page

Last modified on Thursday, 26 March 2015 12:20

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