The future of Eagles’ receiving corps could be shaped by the team’s biggest unknown

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“This week, a little bit of a minor setback.” Doug Pederson explained with the regular season just heartbeats away. He was of course talking about second-year receiver Mack Hollins. “We just made the decision to keep him out of this football game, and then we’ll evaluate after we get a little bit of time after this game.”

Hollins then spent the entire season on injured reserve.

After undergoing a sports hernia surgery early in the offseason, the UNC standout endured a bumpy ride. Hollins missed a huge chunk of Training Camp and preseason due to a lower-body injury, prompting the team to carry some extra depth and go as far as bringing Markus Wheaton onto the roster. But I don’t think anybody expected this ‘minor setback’ to cost Hollins an entire year of play.

Nobody really knows what went on, how serious the injury was, or . whether or not this was another in a long line of medical related hiccups for the Philadelphia Eagles. However, as the team move into a crucial time in the offseason, Hollins and his health could be the biggest wildcard for a team with several question marks at wide receiver.

On the surface, the Eagles are loaded. Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor will be make up arguably one of the most explosive wide receiver trios in the league next season. But with Agholor carrying a $9M cap hit, his immediate future is still questionable and his long-term is extremely cloudy.

Not only that, but the Eagles know DeSean Jackson won’t be around forever. While Jackson continues to terrorize defenses with his deep speed, the Eagles will have a window to groom an eventual, much younger replacement. The question is, will that be either Shelton Gibson or Mack Hollins? Or does the Draft hold more enticing options? If it does, then that’s a pair of swings and misses from the Eagles in what was a very important draft.

Hollins saw a surprising amount of action during his rookie year, recording 226 receiving yards and a touchdown in the process. The deep-threat rapidly became a fan favorite and was out to prove he’s much more than a perennial special teamer. Although that much is now clear, the Eagles were without their fourth-round selection for an entire campaign. And now that the starting trio is so firmly cemented for the time being, one has to wonder what the future holds for Mack Hollins.

His ability to line up in the slot or on the outside is extremely valuable for the Eagles, especially as they like to rotate based on matchup. His home-run potential speaks for itself, with many being able to recall his first NFL touchdown. But the signs of being able to take the top off a defense were present far earlier in his career.

Although his numbers were not that of a top-10 WR in College, he did average 20.6 yards per reception, showing the potential of a legitimate deep threat. His size, 6’4, 221 lbs, may be the most intriguing part of his game, as he possesses the body type to bully smaller athletes on the defensive side of the ball and terrorize them in the red zone. Much like his fearlessness on kickoffs, he plays with a determined nature when going across the middle to catch passes. Capable of playing inside and out, he is a complete matchup nightmare. Or at least, he was…

Hollins has now become this grand unknown. If the Eagles go through the Draft process without bringing in a shiny new toy for Pederson to play with, then it’s likely that they do value what they have in Hollins and believe he can return from whichever witchcraft spell kept him sidelined for an entire year.

If they draft a player like Andy Isabella or Penny Hart, it’s probably going to limit Hollins to playing outside. If they draft a speed guy, the inverse.

In a bizarre way, Mack Hollins holds the cards here. If the Eagles are concerned over his durability, then it’s likely we see some re-enforcement. If they’re comfortable and confident, expect the ‘Chris Hogan’ effect on offense and the Mack Hollins comeback tour.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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