Why Eagles WR Nelson Agholor has to step up in 2019


It’s been a rollercoaster of a career for Eagles WR Nelson Agholor. Drafted with the 20th overall pick back in 2015 by former Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly, he came into Philadelphia with lofty expectations. The former USC Trojan finished his 2014 season with 1,313 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 104 receptions. Not bad for a junior wideout who seemed to be on the verge of something spectacular before leaving USC.

In Agholor’s first season as an Eagle, the young WR was part of a group that was infamously known for dropping passes consistently. At the age of 22, the young receiver finished his rookie season far below the projected expectations. That season he ended with only 283 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. Not what you would expect from a first-round pick. The main stat that stood out was his dropped passes. The Eagles rookie at the time was targeted for 44 passes in which he only caught 23 of them. All this leading to a catch percentage of 52.3%.

2016 followed that same pattern very closely, He ended with the same catching percentage while being targeted 69 times that season. The end result? Agholor only mustered to catch for 365 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Now what happened next was a true revelation of Pederson’s offensive brilliance. After using Agholor as an outside receiver for his first two seasons, Howie Roseman chose to trade their top wide receiver, Jordan Mathews, for Ronald Darby. That opened the door for Agholor to be moved to the slot role, where he flourished tremendously.

in 2017, Agholor went from being labeled an early round bust to potentially one of the best slot receivers in the game today. He finished that season with 768 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. One part of his game that drastically improved was his catch percentage. He went on to catch 65.3% of his targets that season and becoming a very reliable piece in the passing game. Many felt Nelson Agholor had finally arrived.

Fast forward to now, the 2019 season. Although Nelson finished the 2018 season with similar numbers to the year prior, many felt as if he had lost his mojo or disappeared once again. The sudden lack of playmaking ability led to the Eagles trading for Golden Tate. A trade that didn’t exactly transform the offense, but it did cost the franchise a necessary 3rd round pick.

Currently, the Eagles seem to be at a crossroads with their slot receiver. They did pick up his option but they also did draft a sure-handed wide receiver in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and they also traded for the best deep threat in the game in Desean Jackson. Let’s also not forget to mention the need to incorporate Dallas Goedert to this lethal offense. It seems as if Nelson might be on his way out or may just be forgotten about if the above-mentioned players overachieve this season.

See after spending an hour or two watching game film on Agholor, I realized just how good he really can be. In his college days, Nelson was a lethal route runner with very quick feet, also a great punt returner and a sure-handed receiver. All of those traits seem to have disappeared since he was drafted, but how?

How can a raw talent be so inconsistent? Also, how can inconsistency stand out in a talented wide receiver group? It seems the Eagles believe Agholor will play a huge role for them this season, even with the added depth. Why else would they have bothered picking up his option? Not many teams are in desperate need for a slot receiver with a high cap hit, especially one with Agholor’s track record.

With DeSean Jackson and a healthy Alshon Jeffery entering training camp as the number one and two receivers, Agholor may be in a battle that he’s already losing. The Eagles have the depth and the pieces to be very creative on offense. Ertz, Goedert and even Jeffery can be very effective from the slot position while Jackson and Arcega-Whiteside take care of the outside positions.

As for a gadget player, this may be where Agholor can show his worth. Sure, Jackson is just as good, maybe even better, as a gadget receiver but this is what helped Nelson standout during the playoffs of 2017. It was the ability to be anywhere on the field and still be successful which in part hurt him during his first two seasons with the Eagles. Pederson seems to know how to make Agholor go and maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wentz didn’t have a full offseason with his slot wideout could’ve played a factor for such an odd 2018 season.

Agholor is now entering his fourth season with the Philadelphia Eagles and is being paid over $9 million for this season. A season that could quite possibly be his last in Philly or could define the rest of his career in Philly. See next year, Alshon Jeffery could become a cap casualty, hence the Arcega-Whiteside pick. Jackson is also not getting any younger even though he hasn’t lost a step. As for Arcega-Whiteside, he hasn’t stepped foot on the field yet so there’s no telling what he can bring. Hollins is a ghost that seems to be wandering through the Novacare complex these days. All of this leads to Agholor having the biggest advantage right now if he can be what he believes he is and more, then he can be playing a pivotal role for this organization for years to come.

The Eagles could use a lethal version of Agholor along with the other young wideouts for years to come. See it all depends on what edge Agholor brings to the table this season, the front office isn’t big on spending big money on skills positions unless they absolutely have to. Agholor has to make them feel like they have to retain him if he wants to continue his career in Philly. Whether he plays for the Eagles this season or is traded before the season starts, there’s one phrase that has to be instilled into Agholor’s mind. He has to know that it’s “Go! Time”.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports