Nelson Agholor Views Another Disappointing Season as Growing Experience

The Eagles were counting on some major contributions from Nelson Agholor in his second season.

They never came.

Instead, things got so bad for the 2015 first-round pick that he was a healthy scratch for the Green Bay game on Nov. 28 after administering a self-psychoanalysis in the visitor's locker room in Seattle, during which he admitted that the pressure of the NFL was getting to him. At that time, Agholor said he was overthinking and pressing too much. So head coach Doug Pederson benched him in the next game.

After the benching, Agholor was able to return and play in the final five games of the season with mixed results until an ankle injury forced him out of the finale early.

"At the end of the day, I did what I needed to do to finish the season and now it's time to prepare for another one," the 23-year-old said on Monday.

In the final five games of the season, Agholor caught nine passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, all of which brought his season total to 36 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns.

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That's an improvement over his rookie season, but still not great for a player who started for most of the season.

How will Agholor look back at his 2016 season?

"Opportunity to grow and great chance to just experience," he said. "That was the most important thing for me. It was a great experience to grow and get better."

Agholor was slightly better over the last few games of the season since the benching. On Monday, he continually said he respected Pederson's decision to bench him for that game.

"Most important thing is I have a lot of respect for my head coach and everything he gave me as a player and as a man," he said. "He gave me an opportunity to grow as a man. He also gave me coaching moments, how he tried to coach me from there on out. Doug payed close attention to detail with my technique. He was talking to me about how to get better. And he also, with his decision, talked to me as a man and how I can get better. I appreciate him."

Through two seasons, Agholor has 59 catches for 648 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games (26 starts). There are 114 players in the NFL over the last two seasons who have caught more passes for more yards and more touchdowns than Agholor. Of that 114, 75 of them started fewer games than Agholor.

To give his numbers even more perspective, in the modern era, there are just five receivers with 25-plus starts in their first two years with fewer receptions. Darrius Heyward-Bey was the most recent to do it in 2009-10.

Agholor is a big reason why Eagles fans are clamoring for upgrades at the position. And it's pretty clear that receiver was an overall area of weakness in 2016. While Carson Wentz said he thought the Eagles did a good job spreading around the football to find matchups, it would probably behoove the Eagles to find a receiver who is good enough to create constant mismatches.

"I mean, that's always helpful, but at the end of the day, we were very confident in the guys we had, nonetheless," Wentz said.

If the Eagles do upgrade at the receiver position, Agholor's days as a starter are very likely over.

"Whatever happens, happens," Agholor said. "What I know is that I'm coming ready to compete. Nothing's mine. Nothing in this world is yours. You have to work for it and you have to compete for it. And that's my mindset."

While he left the season finale early with an ankle injury, he said on Monday that it wasn't a serious one. This offseason, Agholor said his goal is to "grind and come back better than I left."

Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz both said they planned on finding time to work out with Wentz this offseason, which is Agholor's plan as well. "Wherever Carson's at, I'm definitely going to get with him," he said.

With a second disappointing season in the books, Agholor on Monday said he's ready to take a step forward next year.

"I felt like all I have to do is develop every year and get better every day," he said, "and I'll put myself in a good place."

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