Scouting Report: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

Nelson Agholor was born in Nigeria before moving to the United States at the age of 5. While at Berkeley Prep (Tampa, FL), he was rated a five-star recruit playing running back, wide receiver and defensive back. Agholor committed to the University of Southern California in 2012 and earned All-Pac 12 honors in his sophomore and junior years while leading the team in receiving. He enters the 2015 NFL Draft as a wide receiver that’s rising up draft boards and should hear his named called before the 2nd day concludes.

College Career Overview

Having played primarily at running back in high school, Agholor played in all 13 games as a backup receiver his true freshman year in 2012. As a sophomore, he started all 14 games and led the team in receiving with 56 receptions, 918 yards, and 6 TDs. He also displayed dangerous abilities as a punt returner and was even named to the 2013 All-Pac 12 2nd Team as a return specialist. In 2014, Agholor returned as a starter and began to dominate towards the end of the season by catching 62 of his 104 receptions, 908 of his 1313 yards, and 8 of his 12 TDs in the final 7 games. Playing in USC’s pro-style offense, Agholor has a variety of routes in his repertoire while also being able to run them from the outside and slot positions.


DOB May 24, 1993 Bench (225 lbs.) 12
Height 6’0-1/8″ Vertical Jump 36-1/2”
Weight 198 lbs. Broad Jump 10’5”
Arms 32-1/4″ 20 Yard Shuttle
Hands 9-1/4″ 3 Cone Drill
40 Yard Dash (10 yd split) 4.42 sec (1.53 sec) 60 Yard Shuttle


Stats and Awards

University of Southern California (2014) 104 Rec, 1313 Yards, 12.6 YPC, 12 TDs 2014 AP Third Team All-American
University of Southern California (2013) 56 Rec, 918 Yards, 16.4 YPC, 6 TDs 2014 First Team All-Pac 12
University of Southern California (2012) 19 Rec, 340 Yards, 17.9 YPC, 2 TDs 2013 Second Team All-Pac 12


Scouting Report

  • Experienced route runner displaying good footwork when running double moves and complex routes
  • Adept at finding holes in underneath coverage especially from the slot position
  • Displays consistent awareness in working back to the quarterback
  • Great burst off the line of scrimmage and possesses good game speed
  • Lined up all across the formation from the Z, the slot, and in the backfield
  • Good body control and can adjust mid-air to the ball’s trajectory
  • Experience in kick/punt returns aided his ability to make defenders miss in the open field
  • Quick release off the line of scrimmage but may face difficulty in the NFL with being jammed due to his slight frame
  • Not a natural hands catcher and needs to work on catching the ball away from his body
  • May have limited potential at the next level due to his slight frame; relegated to slot duties
  • Below average blocker, not having enough mass to hold or drive blocks

Film Study

Courtesy of Draft Breakdown, this scouting report consists of the games listed below and represents his 2nd, 5th, and 9th games of the season.

  • 9/6/14 @ Stanford
  • 10/4/14 vs. Arizona State
  • 11/1/14 @ Washington State

Route Running

One of the challenges many wide receiver prospects have to overcome when transitioning into the NFL is an undeveloped route tree. Having played in USC’s pro-style offense should make that transition a little easier for Nelson Agholor. He runs with exceptional burst, displays great agility in his cuts, and understands how to create space for himself in his routes.

These traits are on display on this double move. Agholor makes a great fake to the inside, the DB breaks out of his backpedal with a T-Step (DB’s outside foot gets perpendicular with his inside foot forming a “T”) and drives on the in-breaking route. As the DB is doing this, Agholor, with the help of some nifty footwork, turns back up field for a potential deep pass. The DB is far too committed on the fake and is out of position. This draws a defensive holding call and a new set of downs.


It’s very rare to see a post-corner route at the college level, but Agholor shows off this route against Stanford. Even though I feel he is too far outside of the numbers for this route to be effective, he catches the DB flat-footed again with the double move. Agholor fakes the post which causes the DB’s feet to stumble in front of him. This forces the DB to reach out and grab on what should’ve been at least an illegal contact penalty. What I love most on this play is that Agholor didn’t quit but kept working his way back to the football for the first down, a trait you’ll see more of later.


Agholor goes in motion and the DB follows, signaling man-to-man coverage. Perfect, as it’s 3rd and 5 and USC has a whip route dialed up for Agholor, which is an effective route to beat man-to-man. Agholor does a great job of pivoting out of the shallow cross and back out towards the sideline, catching the DB out of position. If not for an underthrown ball this would’ve been an easy completion for a first down.


Agholor is on the “bunch” side of the formation (three receivers lined up in a triangular alignment) and has enough awareness to widen out his defender by running his route with more of a diagonal stem. Doing so allows him to have a lot more grass to work with when he cuts inside as opposed to just running straight up-field before making his cut.


Here’s another angle.


Working out of a “doubles” alignment (two receivers lined up on each side of the formation), Agholor beats the defender across his face for the post route. It’s critical that he runs his route in front of the defender and not behind. He does a great job of using a stutter move that causes the DB to stop his feet. This allows him to blow right past the DB. Agholor makes the catch and keeps the ball tucked into his body as he braces for contact from the on-coming safety.


Great display of patience here as he allows the play to develop. The Z receiver is working back inside on a shallow cross to set up the natural pick that walls off the DB covering Agholor. It’s imperative that he doesn’t go too early, as the Z receiver needs to get into proper position in order for the play to succeed. The play proves effective as Agholor has a ton of green grass in front of him for an easy touchdown but the ball is poorly thrown.

Continued on the next page

Raymond Pang

A financial analyst by day and a football enthusiast by night, Raymond has been a lifelong fan of the cursed Vikings. Not being satisfied by just simply watching highlights and the broad generic reporting of football, he's turned to watching film to help him delve deeper in understanding the X's and O's. He hopes to help others satisfy their curiosity in learning the details of the game with his articles. For all of Raymond's articles: <strong><a href="">Click Here</a>.</strong>