Rowe vs. Agholor in Super Bowl LII’s Most Unlikely Matchup
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (973espn.com) - Back in April of 2015 Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe were supposed to be part of Chip Kelly's foundation with the Eagles.
The speedy Agholor as a difference maker outside the numbers in the coach's high-octane offense and Rowe as the rangy corner who could offer up an option who could finally matchup with the growing number of king-sized receivers who populate the NFL.
It didn't work out that way as Agholor was written off by most after back-to-back awful seasons to start his career, one under Kelly and another when Doug Pederson came in.
Rowe, meanwhile, was banished in record time by Jim Schwartz when the defensive coordinator was brought in to revamp what Kelly and Billy Davis had done to the defense, sent to New England for a conditional draft pick which will be a fourth-rounder this April.
Fast forward to Sunday, though, and Agholor has reclaimed his career as the Eagles slot receiver and Rowe has worked in his way back into the mix of the Pats' talented defensive backfield, which also features high-profile free-agent acquisition Stephon Gilmore and former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler at cornerback, as the club's nickel back.
"It's been a challenge," Rowe said of the move inside when talking with 973espn.com at the Mall of America on Wednesday. "At the end of the day when I get back to the outside. [I will] kinda be more alert of when to break. When to do stuff like that. Kind of stuff you don't see much on the outside. Just to have that knowledge and see the different view. It just helps.
"...It's more traffic. It's more scheme than just man or zone. Gotta to have route awareness so you don't run into people."
On the other side Agholor has unlocked the confidence that was missing during his first two professional seasons and has turned into perhaps Philadelphia's most dangerous receiver.
And if you're a smart football fan, you will realize all of this means the top two selections in the Eagles' draft class will be matched up against each other early and often in Super Bowl LII.
"I would never have guessed it," Rowe said. "I would have never guessed getting to the Super Bowl. For both of us just to make it, it takes a lot of hard work."
Often rookie classes grow close with one another because they are entering a new city and a new environment together. Rowe and Agholor were friends with the Eagles but it wasn't the type of connection that was going to endure a long-distance relationship from Philadelphia to Foxborough.
"We were good friends. I wouldn't say super close but we were good friends," Rowe said I'd see him out in San Diego once in a while for like lunch or something but nothing like super close."
They will be getting reacquainted on Sunday and when it's over those two top selections of a draft that was once considered to be a disaster will already have two Super Bowl rings.
The Eagles just hope that tally will be split.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen