For one last time in 2020, we’re going to take a look at an upcoming opponent that should concern Denver Broncos fans.
This week, we turn our attention to Las Vegas to examine Raiders wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Since joining the Raiders, Agholor has really cleaned up some mistakes from his time in Philadelphia, turning into a consistent downfield threat that has helped open up Jon Gruden's offense in 2020.
Coming out of USC in 2015, Agholor was considered one of the better receivers in the class. He started slow with the Eagles, hauling in just 59 passes over two years. In year three, though, Agholor broke out and became a significant threat in the Eagles offense, eventually helping Philadelphia win a Super Bowl.
Drops always plagued him, though, which eventually led to the Eagles not offering him a contract after his fifth year. He eventually signed a one-year deal with the Raiders and embraced the opportunity to rebuild his stock.
It’s been a good move for Agholor, who looks to have found a long-term home, thanks to his 2020 season. On the year, Agholor has hauled in 47 receptions for 823 yards and eight touchdowns, adding nearly five yards per catch to his career average in the process.
What threat does Agholor pose to the Broncos in Sunday's season finale?
The Raiders have done a good job using Agholor down the field, working in double moves for the speedster to hit home runs. He does a great job selling this out-route, forcing the Indianapolis cornerback to bite on the sideline route.
Once the corner bites, Agholor sails free down the sideline, hauling in the 36-yard strike from Derek Carr, and sets up a Raiders’ scoring drive.
One thing I’ve noticed in 2020 with Agholor is his ability to separate late in routes, which is something he struggled to do consistently in Philadelphia.
On this touchdown catch against the Kansas City Chiefs at home, Agholor does a great job getting a quick release, finding himself even with the Chiefs’ cornerback down the field.
Watch the way he pulls way late on the route to haul in the touchdown from Carr. That’s what you call late separation to a T. That’s what you want to see with receivers.
Settling in the Zone
Agholor has always been strong against zone coverage. The Raiders haven’t quite had a strong receiver against zone coverage with Carr, but that’s the case now. He’s been very strong against zone coverage, and does a great job settling against the zone.
See the way he works across the coverage here and settles before running to the sideline? That’s how you settle against zone coverage, allowing your quarterback to throw a dart to move the chains.
Playing Through Contact
While in Philadelphia, Agholor wasn’t known to work through contact well in routes. He could be bumped off of routes with ease, especially early in his career.
He’s certainly developed in that area of the game, which has allowed him to stay on the field consistently in Las Vegas.
The Miami corner is all over Agholor on this route, trying to move him off of his designed route. That doesn’t happen though, as Agholor shrugs off the contact and separates late on the comeback to find himself open in the middle of the field.
Broncos' Best Hope
Agholor won’t be the top priority on Sunday — that distinction will fall to tight end Darren Waller — but the Broncos have to get creative with Agholor, getting physical at the line with him, throwing different variations of zone coverage at him, and making sure the safeties over the top are rolled his way in obvious situations where the Raiders can take shots.
Waller is probably going to have a great day, but the Broncos can’t let Agholor have one, too. Slowing him down and turning him into a possession receiver will allow the Broncos to have a shot on Sunday.