Can Nelson Agholor’s Career be Salvaged?
Nelson Agholor first joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 as a first-round pick, and that brings a ton of expectations, but in two NFL seasons he's been a major disappointment catching just 59 passes for 648 yards and three touchdowns in 28 career games games.
Agholor had well-documented confidence issues in 2016, even missing a game to clear-his-head last season. He missed three games his rookie season with an lingering ankle injury that plagued him for most of the season.
The Eagles are hoping he can take a step forward in 2017 and so far during the team's organized team activities or OTA's and looks like he has come in much more focused.
"Nelson's attitude has been great," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson stated. "He's worked extremely hard this offseason. The addition of [wide receivers coach] Mike Groh has really sort of lit a fire with Nelson a little bit, and then the addition with [WRs] Alshon [Jeffery] and Torrey [Smith] and bringing these guys in. As I've said all along, competition, man, sharpens you. And that's what I've seen from Nelson. He's done a great job already this spring."
The former USC product’s role in the offense this year appears to be unclear, the Eagles clearly felt they needed to improve the position, bringing in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and adding Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the draft.
There is no shortage of competition at the position, something Pederson values and thinks will help the unit improve in 2017.
"It's been one of the bright spots of the spring, quite honestly, to see these guys," said Pederson about the wide receiver position. "To see Alshon [Jeffery] come in here and Torrey [Smith] come in here, to work with the young players. To get Nelson [Agholor] and the progression of where Nelson's at, and DGB [Dorial Green-Beckham], it's all sort of collectively coming together. These guys are rallying around each other in practice; they're encouraging each other in practice; they're challenging each other in practice. It's fun to see."
Now, as the Eagles get ready for the 2017 season, Agholor is going to have to show Pederson and the offensive coaches he belongs and put himself in position to see the field more this season.
"The expectation is for him to compete – to compete to play, compete to start, compete to be a role player on this football team, help us win football games," Pederson explined when asked what the expectations are for Agholor this season.
"That's my expectation with guys like Nelson, and really with all the team members. Just to be unselfish, but yet be disciplined and compete to play."
But just because he seems more focused and his play looks to have improved, it might not be enough to get him on the field. The Eagles are deep at wideout and there may not be enough snaps for Agholor to contribute this season - even if he makes the roster, which due to his contract situation, is expected.
Typically teams will keep five wide receivers on the roster, the Eagles will have some very interesting decisions to make, as it’s unlikely the team will part ways with Jeffery, Smith, Matthews and Hollins.
That means the final decision could come down to Agholor, Green-Beckham and Gibson, a rookie.
But for the 6-foot-0, 198-pound Agholor, a great spring doesn't guarantee a roster spot come Week 1.
It’s a start, though.
Agholor has talent, that's what got him drafted in the first-round. He left USC with 178 receptions, including 104 during his junior season, for 2,572 yards along with 20 touchdown catches. He excelled as a returner, too, with four career punt returns for touchdowns.
So can the former first-round pick's career be salvaged?
We're about to find out.