In just the past decade, the NFL has come a long way from the days when a rookie receiver, even a first-rounder, was not expected to make an impact immediately.In 2001, we thought Freddie Mitchell was promising while he was turning in 283 yards.Will we feel the same if Nelson Agholor matches that in 2015?
Later, when his career with the Eagles fizzled out, Mitchell's selection above other the other wide receivers available was often lampooned. But even those hall of fame talents -- Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith -- combined for just 828 yards and one touchdown as rookies.
Last season, the first three receivers selected in the draft - Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. --combined for 3438 yards and 30 touchdowns.
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Jordan Matthews, the seventh receiver selected, had arguably the greatest rookie season by an Eagles receiver with 872 yards and eight touchdowns.
The three best seasons by a rookie wide receiver in Eagles' history have all happened within the last seven seasons.
Agholor was the fourth receiver selected in this draft. Is it safe to expect a season of these heights from the Eagles' rookie?He has a lot of things going for him.
Nelson's college position coach, Tee Martin, told Dave Spadaro the Trojans moved last season from a west-coast offense to "a no-huddle, tempo...boards on the sideline, coaches signaling to the players" offense very similar to what the Eagles run.
This change in offensive scheme coincided with a jump in Agholor's numbers from 56 receptions for 918 yards and six touchdowns in 2013 to 104 receptions for 1313 yards and 12 touchdowns this past season.
Martin, Chip Kelly, and Agholor himself have all commented on the versatility he displays in terms of being able to line up all over the field.Agholor said Kelly does a great job of moving players around to create a competitive advantage.
Playing his college ball in Los Angeles may even make it easier for Agholor to adjust to the spotlight and attention in the NFL. But he may have a few things working against him as well.
Matthews had Jeremy Maclin around last season to take the pressure off him, and was able to focus almost exclusively on learning the slot.
Similarly, when Agholor arrived at USC, Marquise Lee was the established threat in the passing game. In Philadelphia this season, there won't be a player to take a back seat to, or to hold down the fort while Agholor learns the position.
Another thing that could impact his development (and almost every other part of the Eagles' season) is the health of Sam Bradford.If Bradford is available for a large part of the team's off-season program, then it could go a long way in building chemistry and trust between Bradford and Agholor.If he's sidelined, that all goes away.
In the end, it should be safe to hope for Agholor to play an even more important role this season than Matthews did last, even if that doesn't translate to a more statistically productive season.
Eagles Rookie Leaders
Desean Jackson, 62 rec, 912 yards, 2 tds (2008)
Jordan Matthews, 67 rec, 872 yards, 8 tds (2014)
Jeremy Maclin, 56 rec, 773 yards, 4 tds (2009)
Fred Barnett, 36 rec, 721 yards, 8 tds, (1990)
Calvin Williams, 37 rec, 602 yards, 9 tds, (1990)
Keith Jackson, 81 rec, 869 yards, 6 tds (1988)
Charle Young, 55 rec, 854 yards, 6 tds (1973)
NFL 2014 Rookie Leaders
Odell Beckham Jr., 91 rec, 1305 yards, 12 tds
Mike Evans, 68 rec, 1051 yards, 12 tds
Kelvin Benjamin, 73 rec, 1008 yards, 9 tds
Sammy Watkins, 65 rec, 982 yards, 6 tds
Jordan Matthews, 67 rec, 872 yards, 8 tds