Tuesday, April 07, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #62 - Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Nelson Agholor, WR, USC - 6'0, 198 - Junior - 4.42 40
USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) looks on before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 27, 2014. (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
USC Trojans wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) looks on before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 27, 2014. (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)
We were told to prepare for another deep class of talented wide receivers, and from the handful I have broken down so far, I would concur with those ideas.  The more the modern game shifts to a pass/run balance of closer to 60/40 than 50/50, the more we funnel players to positions of need at the lowest levels of football.  Those positions of need are more and more becoming pass catchers and those who must try to slow them down as defensive backs - at the expense of the old school fullbacks, linebackers, and blocking tight ends.
This means that the supply is high, and while the demand is also high, due to there being so many who have touched the ball so often at the major college level, we see that end effect is that they all get pushed down a bit in the draft because there is no reason to over-extend yourself to get the "best in class".  If 10 wide receivers could all go in the Top 50, then even the worst is still a really good player.  On the other hand, if only 1 safety is a Top 50 player, then the teams who need one are more likely to reach.  Supply and demand.  As long as you get one of the better ones, you will be fine.
Nelson Agholor is another of these top receivers who has done plenty at the college level, including a 100-catch, 1300-yard season in 2014 which he also touched the ball another 60+ times on punt and kick returns.  USC made it their objective to use him as much as possible in as many ways as they could conceive, and the sum total was a filled up stat sheet for the WR prospect who has been on the national radar since he was in high school.  To see what he does well, we looked at several 2014 games, including Arizona State, Stanford, and Washington State that you will see below:
Agholor wears #15.
What I liked:  Nelson is a volume producer who is ready to take the ball in so many different ways.  He is best as he works underneath as a possession receiver who can move the sticks and work in tight confines.  He is a very fast 4.42 receiver, but he also has the ability to sit down against zones and fine those soft spots for easy conversions, and also hit the jets against man to find the passing lane and then make things happen.  His yards after catch are impressive as can be as he loves running against the grain and making guys miss.  He is a fine return man who has taken several punts all the way to the house with slightly less production as a kick return man.  He also sells under routes and then pops one over the top and has fine catching skills in all situations.  He is a willing blocker.  He excels out of those bunch formations and runs the option routes well and with fine acceleration.
What I did not like:   While he is willing to block, he doesn't appear to be overly strong.  He is not the biggest man in the league and also has a clear build difference than say Amari Cooper and the 6'0, 215 guys who are populating the league.  This player is more slight, more vulnerable to downfield beatings, and perhaps more comfortable in the slot and between the numbers than out on the flanks where the battles of strength often are waged.
Summary:  When evaluating guys like this, the first question is whether or not he is a true "#1 receiver" who can win against all the coverages and all of the attention.  Agholor is not at the top of this group with those alpha dogs who look like world beaters in the Top 10-15 picks.  Rather, he is going to be in that next class as either a 1b or a 2 type receiver who will also immediately impact your return game.  And you know, there is nothing wrong with any of that and as a guy who might grow into something more, I would have no problem with a player of this quality pretty early in the draft.  He is a fine play-making weapon who should provide some real quality for someone in what I assume would be early Round 2 or so.
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