Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Observations

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4. Nelson Agholor is Not Jordan Matthews, and that’s a Good Thing

Jun 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Jordan Matthews (81) and Nelson Agholor (17) during minicamp at The NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long during the 2014 offseason for the buzz surrounding 2nd round pick Jordan Matthews to build into a fever pitch. The Vanderbilt product emerged as the darling of last year’s camp and carried his success over into an extremely productive and promising rookie season. The Eagles doubled down on using high draft picks on wide receivers in 2015, drafting Nelson Agholor out of USC with the 20th overall pick. With Jeremy Maclin having departed via free agency, Agholor figures to see the field early and often for a team that expects to contend for a playoff spot.

Jordan Matthews is as intense an individual as any on either side of the ball for the Eagles. He still runs out every single reception to the end zone, he wrestles for balls like it’s the regular season, and he demands perfection out of himself. If Chip Kelly could draw up his ideal player, Matthews would be pretty close to a dead ringer at the wide-out position. Nelson Agholor is unlike Jordan Matthews, in that regard.

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By no means does that make Agholor a lesser prospect than Matthews. He is arguably the more physically gifted of the two and could end up being the better player of the two. That being said, based on what I saw at practice, the way Agholor goes about his practice is more like what most people imagine when they consider a rookie wide receiver in his first NFL training camp. I mean this much more in the way Agholor plays and goes about his game rather than whether or not he has the ability to play in the league.

There is value in Matthews’ business-like approach to the position. He will likely emerge as the leader of the Eagles receiving corps on the future and one of Kelly’s key locker room figures. That being said, too many of those with a similar personality type to Matthews operating in the same position group could be overkill. Agholor’s practice is a healthy balance of minor hiccups, moments of brilliance, and a consistent display of his first round talent. Mixed in to his play on the field is an almost child-like attitude in his happiness and appreciation for the game.

Agholor’s passion and authenticity warms the soul. Those who have heard the young man speak know he possesses a level of humanity that seems unheard of in this day and age. The way he plays gives credence to those who say things like, ‘it’s a blessing for me to be able to play this game as a job’. Agholor seemed to have more fun than anyone on the field Sunday whether he was involved in the action or not. There were countless instances of him initiating touchdown celebrations with some of his teammates after they made a strong play. For all his talents, Agholor’s spirit could be just as valuable when one considers the grind of an NFL season.