The "know your draft crush" series continues today with USC WR Nelson Agholor.
This time last year three out of eight mocks predicted Nelson Agholor in the first round to the Chiefs. Until a couple of weeks ago, it appeared to those of us on the "outside" that it was more likely Agholor would be there at No. 49 if the Chiefs wanted to take him.
But as is the case every year names keep popping up in first round conversations as the draft approaches and now it seems quite likely that Agholor ends up coming off the board mid to late round one in Thursday's draft.
In evaluating a WR, there are few key attributes I'm looking for:
Size, Speed, quickness, route running, hands, blocking, separation and ability to high-point the ball.
First, the measurables:
6'0, 198 pounds, 9 ¼" hands, 4.42 second 40-yard dash, 12 bench reps of 225.
These are pretty much standard, good numbers for a WR. Agholor is lean and athletic, shows great speed on film, and his 40 time reflects it. Quickness is a huge strength on film for Agholor, although he didn't do the three-cone or other drills at the Combine to prove it (he dislocated a finger and his Combine day ended early).
I watched three games that I could get on Draft Breakdown and felt like I had a good feel for him as a WR. But in order to make sure I wasn't crazy, I thought it was important to compare him against his peers. So I watched some of Amari Cooper, Phillip Dorsett and of course reviewed DGB again.
I came away with a few conclusions.
1) This is a HELL of a WR class. It looks to me like there are a dozen guys or more that could help KC at receiver, whether it's in the first or fifth round.
2) Even though these guys all play the same position, they do so VERY differently.
3) Teams will watch the film through the lens of their own system and skill-set preferences, and could rank them very differently ... meaning, any one of these guys could go before the others, and one team's third round prospect could go in round one to another team.
I'm not doing an in depth review of Amari Cooper, Philip Dorsett and Dorial Green-Beckham, but I'll try to summarize their game below, just for the sake of comparison:
Cooper: Big, polished, physical, prototypical No. 1
Dorsett: Pure, breakaway speed, but surprisingly physical, especially as a blocker
DGB: Freakishly huge, goes up and gets the ball, otherwise very raw
I will admit my pre-conceived notions about Agholor as well: My impressions from scouting reports and games I've seen live were that Agholor was your classic west coast WR who runs great routes, has good hands, gets open and does all the little things you want your WR to do. What I had forgotten is that Nelson Agholor can straight up RUN past defenders. He was faster and more explosive than I expected, both as a returner and a receiver.
My film notes and GIFs...
- Crisp routes, very quick out of his breaks
- Willing blocker, but not particularly skilled or powerful when he tries to block
- Bounces off of defenders like a pinball, can plant a foot and really go
- Looks deadly in open field
- Tracks the ball well, goes up and gets it, and can get his feet inbounds on the sideline
- Did have a couple of drops in this game
- QB's friend: works back to the ball as an outlet when the QB is under pressure.
This GIF above is your standard Agholor play ... gets open, catches the ball, flashes some speed, bounces off a defender and gets downfield. I saw this over and over on the games I watched.
- Plays FAST and decisive, both on offense and as a punt returner
- Good separation
- Runs his routes HARD, sprints in and out of his breaks, even when the play isn't going his direction
- Feisty when tested, got in defenders' face on multiple occasions when it was warranted
- Energetic, enthusiastic player, bounces up after every tackle, upset with himself if he doesn't take every play to the house
- Weakness as a blocker shows up again
In this GIF, you can see how dangerous Agholor can be with the ball in his hands. .. it's a basic WR screen / outlet pass, but he weaves across the field for a big gain, making guys miss all along the way.
Vs. Washington State
- Another huge punt return touchdown, again shows speed, decisiveness
- Skilled at the "nuances" of the WR game, sets up defenders, uses his blockers
- Speed shows up on every play, certainly "plays as fast as his 40 time"
This GIF could be called the "not AJ Jenkins" play ... watch him tiptoe the sideline and notice the speed to make two efenders miss ... even one with a great angle on him initially.
Bonus GIF: Agholor as a punt returner. Notice the decisive cuts, how he gets going north / south, and of course, the breakaway speed.
What others (including Nelson himself) have said
"It's all about trying to score," said Agholor, who ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the Combine. "You don't get the ball just to convert first downs or 4 or 5 yards. When you catch the ball, you're going to score. That's my mentality. I'm trying to score every time I touch it."
Agholor's versatility — he lined up both inside and outside for the Trojans — should appeal to NFL teams. He sees himself as a Randall Cobb-type playmaker, someone who can threaten teams from a multitude of positions on the field.
"Green Bay has a guy like Randall Cobb in the backfield, running the out routes and the swings," Agholor said. "He's always the hot read in many situations. That's part of my game I want to have. ... I think it's very important to who you are, and it increases your value. You're an every-down receiver."
Draft Projection: first or second round
2014 stats: 104 receptions for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns ; 20 punt returns for 197 yards and two touchdowns
If you look at Agholor's frame and skill set, it reminds NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks of a former Colts star:"
"He reminds me of Reggie Wayne. I think he can be a superstar in the right system."
This one guy's conclusions
Agholor is a dramatically different WR than DGB ... you don't watch his film and say "That guy is a freak". You watch him and say "Now, THAT is an NFL WR" He's a polished player that can run all the routes, and has the speed to beat CBs deep, along with the quickness and savvy to get open underneath.
The only weakness I was concerned about is his blocking ability. He really didn't block anyone in the games I watched ... but if blocking was that crucial, Bowe would still be here, right?
Agholor was more fun to watch than I expected, he's feisty, competitive and energetic, goes 100 percent all the time. I think his big play ability and explosive speed are VERY underrated parts of his game. He is DEADLY in the open field. He bounces off defenders, always looking for the big play, like he mentioned above, he wants to score every time he gets the ball.
The common NFL comparisons for Agholor are Reggie Wayne and Jeremy Maclin ... and I think they fit. I also think that the Chiefs system is PERFECT for Agholor. They like to move their WRs around, vary the formations, make sure they can run all the routes from all positions.
In this draft class, loaded with WR talent, you can "pick your poison." Take the jump-ball freakshow (DGB), the pure speed guy (Dorsett) or the west coast WR that can ALSO destroy a defense with speed and quickness (Agholor).
Don't get too caught up in where we THOUGHT these receivers would be drafted. Instead, watch NFL teams take THEIR GUY with the focus on the fit and skill-set, regardless of perceived value.