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NFL Draft 2015: Chip Kelly explains why Eagles were excited to draft Nelson Agholor

The Eagles coach is happy to have a new pass catcher.

Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly met with the media on Thursday evening shortly after the team officially drafted Nelson Agholor with the No. 20 overall pick. The head coach explained why the Eagles chose the USC wide receiver.

Scheme fit

Yeah, he's a great fit for what we're doing.  Know him fairly well.  We tried to recruit him when I was in college.  He never visited, but we knew him from Berkeley Prep back in Tampa.  Got a real good extensive knowledge from the people at USC that coached him.  Going back to his high school coach who we know very well.  We worked him out.  I think we had two private workouts with him, an outstanding punt returner along with an outstanding receiver, can play both inside and outside receiver.  Has got excellent speed, outstanding hands, catches the ball away from his body.  Outstanding route runner, real student of the game.  We were really excited, and he was kind of what our model is.  He was the best player that was available for us that fit our system.  So we were excited that he was there. We kind of were afraid and weathering the storm there a little bit from 15 to 20 was he going to be available, and when he was, we were excited about it.


We haven’t gotten that far. It's a good question, but let's get him in the building and start talking to him a little bit.  We also felt that because we knew we had [former Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin] and some guys on the outside that we felt comfortable with.  But we lost Jason Avant.  The one thing about Nelson is he's played both.  He's played all over the field for them.  He’s played inside receiver, he’s played outside receiver.  [USC head coach] Steve Sarkisian did a great job of moving him around.  He had 104 catches this past year.  He lined up everywhere.  He lined up in the backfield.  Really versatile guy, smart guy, understands the game.  So I think in his situation, you could line him up anywhere, and I think he can handle that from a mental standpoint.  But where they're going to play and all that other stuff, we're a ways away.  We're still in April, and we've got a lot of time.  We'll get him in here next week for mini-camp and go from there.

Comparison to Jeremy Maclin

Size‑wise they are [similar].  I mean, they both have their different strengths.  Mac is a little bit different.  They're a little bit different, I think.  I think Mac is more of an outside receiver: a really good outside, down-the-line receiver.  I think Nelson is an inside, outside guy.  But I think size‑wise they're almost identical.


He fits into all of that.  That's why we thought he was ‑‑ when we got to know him, I know [Southern California Head Coach] Steve Sarkisian really well. I know what USC is doing.  He was with Kiff [former Southern California Head Coach Lane Kiffin] for his first year, and I know how Kiff feels about him. I know how those guys felt about him.  I saw him firsthand when we played against him; he had six catches for 162 yards in front of my face.  I knew he was a productive player when he walked in as a freshman and he just kept getting better and better.  And you throw in the fact that he has that ability as a punt returner which will help us with Darren [RB Darren Sproles].  Darren is our punt returner, but to have that other guy out there that I don't think if we take Darren off the field on a punt return, you're missing a beat when you put Nelson in there.  I think he's a dynamic returner and he can play both and really excel at both positions here.

Punt Returns

We were fortunate that Darren played every snap for us in the return game last year, but if Darren has to come off the field, you feel like you have another guy and you're trotting 1 and 1-A out there.  I don't think we had that.  When [Sproles] didn't play against Arizona [last year], we put Mac back in for the first time and Mac hadn't returned a punt since he was back at Missouri.  So I think having that gives you a little more of a luxury that you feel like you have two solid punt returners in Sproles and Nelson.


I guess the best way to say it is he's just dialed in as a football player.  He's in the Jordan Matthews category in terms of his approach to the game.  Always striving to be better.  I think the great thing about Nelson is he has a growth mindset, and not a fixed mindset. He's always trying to get better.  What is his edge?  You talk to the people he worked out with – I know he worked out Yo Murphy, a former NFL receiver that was training him down there in Tampa.  And he's like a sponge when it's just the game of football.  When he came here and we had him on a visit here, we were in the room with him for a long time because of the questions he had for us about, ‘How do we attack this coverage, and what do we do here?’  He's one of those guys that's really a student of the game.  I think you get excited when you're around guys like that.  He's just trying to soak up everything that you can spit out in terms of being able to give him coaching points.  He's always trying to get better, whether it's from a physical standpoint, improving himself physically, or a route-running standpoint, or just a mind standpoint in terms of how to run routes, how to do things and how does he fit into the scheme.  So really exactly what we're looking for in a football player.


I think he's got good linear speed that can get down the field and I think people will have to be leery about that, yeah.

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