May 01, 2015

What they’re saying: WR Nelson Agholor and the one that got away

Eagles NFL

Usually, we format these posts by highlighting one article at the top, delve into it in-depth, and then eventually do a sort of lightning round on some other pieces. Not today. By now, you know the subject matter: The Eagles selected Southern Cal receiver Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick in the draft. Just as importantly, they did not select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the draft.

We’ll break this post up into two sections, local and national angles.

Local

Draft Daily: Why Chip Will Love USC WR Agholor: Sheil Kapadia, Birds 24/7

Kapadia wrote about Agholor a month ago and bumped the original story. Here’s part that proved prescient about what today will be a common talking point:

When it comes to the Eagles' interest (and Agholor reportedly came in for a visit), the biggest thing the USC wide receiver has going for him is his versatility. He has been effective lining up inside and outside. The Trojans would sometimes use him close to the formation as a blocker. He returned four punts for touchdowns the past two seasons, and he was on coverage teams as well.
The more you can do, the more Kelly likes you. That much we know at this point.

2015 NFL Draft Profile: Nelson Agholor, USC wide receiver: Mike Kaye, Bleeding Green Nation

Another profile from a few weeks ago. Kaye felt that Agholor was more of a second-rounder, but allowed for the possibility of Kelly taking him in the first. Here’s the “weaknesses” section:

Agholor is prone to mental errors and has trouble tracking the ball in the air. He is not a burner and is more of a possession receiver. He has only adequate size and is not particularly a deep threat. He needs to probably add muscle similarly to Jeremy Maclin in later years.

Eagles better off not making the big move: Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Daily News

When you consider David Murphy’s column from the other day, the Daily News definitely has the anti-Mariota market covered (I kid, I kid). Here’s Domo’s rationale:

Listen, I've got nothing against Mariota. I think he's going to be a terrific NFL quarterback. And maybe Kelly's right. Maybe he will win multiple Super Bowls.
But the price for Mariota was excessive. In the end, Kelly realized that. What good is having a young franchise quarterback if your defense is in shambles?

Get over Mariota; Bradford is Eagles' QB: Mike Sielski, Philadelphia Inquirer

Sielski writes about what is a touchy topic for Eagles fans. It’s not just being unable to trade for Mariota that has a large portion of the fan base bothered. It’s also that Sam Bradford looks like the starting quarterback:

Kelly also has to hope, above all else, that once Bradford finishes rehabilitating his torn left ACL, he never has to rehabilitate it again - that once Bradford gets healthy, he stays healthy. Kelly can do only so much to prevent a defensive end from charging around Lane Johnson or Jason Peters and sending Bradford back to injured reserve, but that doesn't matter. He chose Bradford. He picked a quarterback with a heavy history of injury. He took this chance. He's responsible for the result.
Now, Bradford. There is something else worth remembering where he is concerned: He was Marcus Mariota once. No, he was Jameis Winston. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, the prospect who immediately became the fulcrum of a franchise, a cautionary tale for everyone who is so certain that Mariota will flourish in Tennessee or would have flourished here. You don't know. You never know. No one does.

National

2015 Draft Reaction Blog, Day 1: Pro Football Focus

The PFF team always does interesting work. They’re a fan of both Agholor and spelling “favorite” the international way. I don’t know enough about the receiver but get out of here with that “ou” stuff:

A favourite of our staff after he finished with the fourth highest receiving rating of all draft eligible wide receivers. Capable of lining up all over the field with the added bonus of being a dynamic returner, he backfills the loss of Jeremy Maclin with a higher upside and at far less cost. He’s not the strongest receiver out there but as a smooth route runner with great speed, he should fit in very nicely to the Chip Kelly offense. Not a bad consolation prize if you’ve missed out on Marcus Mariota. Watch out for him after the catch where his 17 forced missed tackles were fifth of all wide receivers.

Somewhat unpopular opinion, it seems like: I love Cris Collinsworth as a football analyst, so much so that I even occasionally break out a limited impression that always begins with “I’ll tell ya…” He watches more tape than anybody and has the ability to see literally everything on the field during one play. As for his praise of Agholar? It seems like he praised quite a few picks (i.e. pretty much all of them) last night, but it can’t hurt right? 

NFL Draft Round 1 Report Cards: Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report

Tanier uses an interesting car analogy to break down the Southern Cal receivers:

Agholor, like Lee and the others, is a sports coupe: mid-sized, smooth, efficient, useful in a lot of ways. The USC receivers can typically provide a few 65-catch seasons as second or third options in the passing game. They are like Nissan Altimas for your depth chart. Agholor should follow the Lee-Woods template: decent production, no headaches, minimal big-play sizzle.
Grade: B for Boring. Kelly did something boring. But for once he doesn't earn a simultaneous A/F.

The Trade That Was Never Going to Happen: Peter King, The MMQB

If you listen to King’s side of the story, the idea that Tennessee didn’t think highly of Mariota was overblown. Here’s the interesting paragraph that focuses on the Eagles:

The Eagles, as Kelly said Thursday night in Philadelphia, never offered players as part of a package to obtain Mariota. In fact, The MMQB learned Thursday night that Kelly never offered the widely rumored packages of either three first-round picks or two first-round picks and Sam Bradford, in an attempt to obtain the second pick of the draft. I can tell you this much is true: The Titans basically scared off suitors because they continually told teams they wanted to take Mariota, and it would take a stupid offer to obtain the pick.

He also likes the player that Kelly did select:

The Day 1 Decisions … (And the Day 2-3 Needs): Andy Benoit, The MMQB

Benoit laments the Eagles’ inability to trade up for Mariota, but on the positive side, he feels that right guard is the team’s only major hole. Here’s what he had to say about the Agholor pick:

The selection of Agholor makes the decision to let Jeremy Maclin leave a little more understandable. Agholor is a versatile playmaking wide receiver with lateral agility and acceleration. Those traits are excellent for Chip Kelly’s system. The Eagles badly needed a dynamic piece at this position, as Jordan Matthews and Riley Cooper are methodical, somewhat plodding movers who must be aided by play design. Agholor’s punt-return prowess has been touted, but that could be moot given Darren Sproles’ presence.

2015 NFL draft round 1 grades: Chris Burke and Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated

Burke’s final question here is an interesting one that I initially thought of when the Maclin comparisons started coming fast and furious. I guess you could spin it the other way and say that the Eagles were able to spend Mac’s money to plug some other holes.

Agholor's name had climbed into Round 1 discussion in the weeks leading up to the draft, with several teams intrigued by his advanced route-running and knack for getting open. In Kelly's spread offense Agholor should see plenty of opportunities. He certainly has the skills to turn those chances into Maclin-like stats, even if this pick at No. 20 may have been pushing Agholor's draft ceiling. One must wonder, however: Would Philadelphia have been better off re-signing Maclin and focusing its attention elsewhere at this spot, rather than leaving itself in need of replacing the talented receiver? Grade: B+

2015 NFL Draft Tracker: Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Professor Hot Take serves up the rare lukewarm opinion on Agholor at 20:

I like this kid a lot, and he will be perfect for the Chip Kelly offense. They had to get a receiver, so it works here. GRADE: B

NFL Draft: Round 1 Recap: Adam Levitan, Rotoworld

It’s not a surprise Chip reportedly offered two first-round picks, a third-round pick, stud DT Fletcher Cox, two plus starters in CB Brandon Boykin/ILB Mychal Kendricks and more for the right to take Marcus Mariota at No. 2. It is a bit of a surprise that the Titans stood pat, declining that massive offer and installing Mariota – a questionable scheme fit for Ken Whisenhunt – as their starter. Mariota would have been a top-12 fantasy quarterback in Philly, but is a guy I won’t want to touch in rancid Tennessee.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice:

1. Scroll through Jimmy’s author page if you’re afraid that you didn’t catch something draft-related. 

2. I compiled a bunch of Tweets about Marcus Mariotto last night. Relive the madness here.