Is Nelson Agholor the Perfect Jeremy Maclin Replacement?
The first round of any NFL Draft has plenty of sexy picks. Nelson Agholor isn’t one of them. He doesn’t have the crazy speed of a Kevin White, he doesn’t have the huge height of a Dorial Green-Beckham, and he doesn’t have the insane stats of an Amari Cooper.
My grandfather would often say when he’d beat me at a hand in poker, “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.” But I imagine if my grandfather was Tom Coughlin or Bill Belichick he might say “I’d rather be good than sexy.”
And Nelson Agholor is just that. He’s good.
He didn’t run a 4.35 40-yard dash like Kevin White, but his 4.42 40 time was tied for seventh in the class. He didn’t have 1,700-plus receiving yards like Amari Cooper, but he ranked seventh in receptions (104), seventh in touchdowns (12), and ninth in yards (1313).
Agholor played in an NFL pro-style offense at USC, lining up inside and out while displaying strong ability both after the catch and on the deep ball. He excels between the tackles and at getting separation whether through speed, burst, sharp breaks, or a variety of release moves. He’s a polished route-runner who catches the ball well and is considered one of the more elusive receivers in the class.
He displays good vision, balance, ball-handling, and -- perhaps most importantly -- good judgment. He’s smart, physical, plays hard and with good-effort, is a versatile option, and was named a team captain last year (his Junior year).
So, what’s there not to like? His critics argue that, although he does all of these things, he lacks the size and athletic ability to become a WR1. While he does have strong fundamentals, at 6”1” and 198 pounds, he’ll get overpowered on blocks and jammed at the line by more physical corners.
He’s someone who should contribute immediately at an NFL level. Outside of maybe his pass-blocking ability, there doesn’t seem to be many traits an NFL head coach would want to wait on to develop. If that is the case, he should still be a contributor Week 1 -– as a punt returner. Over his past two seasons, he averaged 15 yards per return and led the Pac-12 in touchdowns as a punt returner over that time. In 2013 he was voted to the Second Team All-Pac-12 as a punt-returner.
Much like my other hypothetical NFL head coach grandfathers, Chip Kelly seems to value good receivers over flashy ones. After failing to trade the world for Mariota, at pick 20, Chip went out and replaced Jeremy Maclin with the player who is most often compared to him. It made the most sense, as wide receiver was a glaring need -- according to our metrics, Riley Cooper was one of the worst starting wide receivers in the league last year.