Last weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine, otherwise known as the “Underwear Olympics”, the best college prospects from around the country coalesced on Indianapolis to ply their wares. The Combine only represents a fraction of the picture that NFL teams look at when evaluating a player, but the events therein can be illuminating for General Managers and their scouting departments. Game film comprises the biggest portion of the evaluation pie chart.
Post-Combine, players will return home to continue to train, with an eye towards their collegiate Pro Days--the last opportunity to prove themselves on the field for NFL scouts. As for the Combine, one of the best opportunities it affords NFL teams is the chance to meet with prospects on their big board and get a little one-on-one time. In modern times, most prospects are rigorously coached by their agents on how to conduct themselves in those interviews—how to respond to certain questions.
It’s all a very controlled and obligatory, but teams still feel like they can glean some insight on players. The Denver Broncos were present, and were among five other teams who met with USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor last weekend at the Combine. In speaking about his sit-downs, Agholor was nonchalant.
“We just chopped it up, talked ball, and we had a good feel with each other,” he said.
At 6-foot-0, 189 pounds, he enters the NFL draft with solid size and a productive track record with the Trojans. He is Scout.com's No. 10 receiver in this class. In 2014, Agholor caught 104 passes for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns, making him just the fourth player in school history to post a 100-catch season. Agholor has worked hard to develop and hone what he believes is an NFL skill-set.
“When I was growing up, I wasn’t always the quickest guy, fastest guy, so when I was growing up and started playing running back, I started to see myself becoming a little more explosive,” Agholor said at the Combine. “I developed a better stride and I was able to move a little bit better. That just matched up with the preparation that I’ve always had. That’s something that came to me later in life so I had the fundamentals of preparation installed to me later so I kept them until later on. When the athleticism (grew), I just merged them together.”
With his size and speed combo (4.42 40-yard dash), Scout.com’s leading draftink Dave-Te Thomas, compares Agholor to Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin. Agholor has the skill-set to pick up yards after the catch and has the ability to find the soft spot in a zone. With a brainiac like Peyton Manning potentially throwing him the ball, he could be a weapon in the slot. Here’s some insight from Thomas.
The USC junior has a lean and muscular frame with room to add more bulk without it affecting his overall quickness. He has outstanding hip snap and agility to elude in attempts to gain big yardage after the catch. He makes smooth body adjustments and possesses solid hands and extension to catch away from his frame. He is quick to settle into the holes in the zone and is very effective as a cut blocker because of his feel for taking angles.
With Wes Welker unlikely to be re-signed, the Broncos are likely to draft a receiver this April and they’re looking for “big” guys in particular. With Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker all likely to go off the board on day one, the Broncos can find a playmaker on day two, who could immediately bolster their depth chart. Nelson Agholor could be that guy. An added benefit to Agholor is that he could also step in and fill a need on special teams in the return game (he accumulated 548 career punt return yards and 4 touchdowns).