USC's Nelson Agholor Wants to Have a Randall Cobb-Like Impact in the NFL

The Trojans wide receiver looks to come off the board in the first two rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.

USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor at the NFL Combine—Brian Carriveau,

USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor at the NFL Combine—Brian Carriveau,

A lot has to play itself out over the next month or so of the NFL's offseason calendar, but if the Green Bay Packers happen to lose Randall Cobb in free agency—and maybe even if they don't—they might consider taking USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Projected to be a high-round draft choice, Agholor thinks he can be the next Cobb-like talent the NFL has seen.

"I like how Green Bay has a guy like Randall Cobb in the backfield, running the out routes and the swings," said Agholor at the NFL Combine. "He’s always the hot read in many situations. That’s part of my game I want to have.

"I think it’s very important to who you are, and it increases your value. You’re an every-down receiver. They talk about an every-down backs, there are some receivers you can’t keep in the game all downs. I want to be the guy you never sub out. I want to be the guy you can run behind. I’m the guy you throw on first down, the guy you go deep to. Doesn’t matter. Or the guy you put in the backfield to get exotic."

Cobb most definitely has the traits Agholor is describing. Despite being a smallish slot receiver, Cobb can catch passes out of the backfield, over the middle, can beat defenders deep and even competes his butt off as a blocker.

Agholor has a slightly bigger build than Cobb—6' 0" and 198 lbs. compared to Cobb's 5' 10", 192. 

What makes Agholor so intriguing, however, is his pedigree as a prep running back. He might be a highly-touted receiver now, but he was actually a four-year letter winner as a running back in high school.

He chose to attend USC because of their history developing receivers. In a lot of ways, Agholor is a lot like former Trojans wideouts Marqise Lee and Robert Woods in size and style.

When Agholor gets the ball in his hands, however, he reverts back to his high school days, taking handoffs and looking to put points on the scoreboard.

"It’s all about trying to score," said Agholor. "You don’t get the ball just to convert first downs or four or five yards. When you catch the ball, you’re going to score. That’s my mentality. I’m trying to score every time I touch it."

Part of yet another deep wide receiver class, Agholor will be hard pressed to come off the board in the first round.

Like Cobb, Agholor is a probable Day 2 type of guy, at least according to draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.

"One of my favorite route runners in the draft. I've got a second-round grade on Agholor," said Mayock. "Gets in and out of breaks, makes you miss like the punt returner that he is, and adds extra value as a punt returner."

Of course, Cobb is a punt returner too, one of the better ones in the NFL when he's allowed to be.

The Packers are cautious with Cobb, however. This past season he split time with Micah Hyde, a good returner in his own right.

Green Bay has its reasons. For one, Hyde is nearly as dangerous, maybe more so. But for another, the Packers don't want to expose Cobb to injury.

Agholor, despite is importance to USC's offense, isn't worried about the risk. Part of what made him so dangerous was his punt-return ability, scoring two touchdowns on special teams in each of the past two seasons.

"You don’t worry about injuries," said Agholor. "It’s the game of football. You just play. You prepare, train and condition your body so you’re healthy and you play from there."

Averaging 14.6 yards on 37 career attempts, Agholor's punt-return statistics complement his receiving numbers quite nicely. His best season came this past year when he caught 104 passes for 1,313 yards (12.6 ypc) and 12 touchdowns as USC's go-to receiver.

For his efforts, Agholor was named a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a junior, an accomplishment he followed up by becoming an underclassman entry into the NFL Draft.

Now he looks to the professional game and is reaching for the stars.

"I’m very different compared to a lot of guys," said Agholor. "I think a lot of these guys have a lot of traits. I’m multiple in many ways. I want to be the guy you keep in the game, 24/7. If a team already has a No. 1, I want to contribute the equivalent to a No. 1 ... or be the No. 1."


Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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