Why Eagles WR Nelson Agholor may be destined for a career-year in 2019


The New Recruit

As you can probably guess from the previous comments about the deep passing game, one of the biggest boons to Nelly’s outlook for 2019 is the addition of DeSean Jackson. He knows it too. In an interview concerning Jackson returning to Philly, Agholor couldn’t stop beaming.

“His energy, man. That’s my homie. His energy always allow me to be, like, turnt up and wired up. I love that . . . Just personality wise they both [Desean and Alshon Jeffrey] always make me be my comfortable, natural self.”

Nelson Agholor to Zach Rosenblatt | NJ.com

A comfortable Nelson is good news for the Eagles. One of the biggest changes from year two to year three for the young man was confidence. If his going to take another step up in 2019, confidence will play a huge role yet again.

It will be more than just a rise in mood that DeSean brings to the table. The speedster has the innate ability to raise the play-making ability of the players around him as well.

“In my career, that’s what I do best. Make plays and amp my teammates up, for them to follow suit, make big plays and keep that aroma going . . . I have a lot to offer these young dudes, so that’s what I’m here for.”

DeSean Jackson to Zach Rosenblatt | NJ.com

The big concern heading into the season is that the addition of another all-star receiver will subtract from Nelly’s ceiling. In reality, Jackson has manufactured some fantastic seasons for his slot compatriots. He’s a constant threat to get behind the defense, which creates a ton of room underneath for slot receivers and tight ends.

Even before the snap of the football, his impact is felt. According to Playerprofiler, DeSean is given an average of 4.98 yards of cushion, fourth-most in the league. Similar to a big-swinging designated hitter, just by stepping onto the field, he makes the whole defense take a big step back. That will open up a ton of grass for Nelson’s crossing routes.

Most importantly, he does all this without taking a lion’s share of targets. In Tampa Bay and in Washington, DeSean was an equal part of potent pass-catching groups. In both cities, the resident slot receiver had their best seasons alongside Jackson.

WAS 2016TargetsReceptionsYardsTDs
TB 2018TargetsReceptionsYardsTDs

If these numbers look at all familiar, it’s because the Eagles offense was at it’s best when it was able to spread the ball around. In their Super Bowl-winning season, having Torrey Smith to stretch the defense did wonders for the other receivers on the team. Jackson is without a doubt a more potent deep threat than Smith at this point in their respective careers.

PHI 2017TargetsReceptionsYardsTDs

If nothing else, Jackson’s presence shouldn’t amount to a loss in production for Nelson. At best, he could see a rise in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. I’ve included the totals to show that there really are enough targets to go around. For reference, the Eagles threw the ball 599 times last season, and 564 times in 2017.

On top of all of this, having another speedster on the field means that Agholor won’t be the team’s primary deep threat. Safeties won’t shade to his side of the field as often and the team will see more two-deep coverage. Also, unlike Golden Tate, DeSean allows Agholor the freedom to remain in the slot. It’s hard enough to get into a rhythm as the third or fourth option on an offense. It’s even harder when you’re constantly switching positions.

All in all, there are many reasons to believe Nelson Agholor will be back to form in 2019. The opportunities will be there for him to up his value and at the very least, he will bring the same spark to the offense that he has for the last two years. With DeSean Jackson allowing him extra room to operate and a return to what’s made him so special: 2019 could easily be a career year for Nelly.