Since being drafted in the fourth round back in 2017, it’s been a bumpy road for wide receiver Mack Hollins. From the highs of catching his first NFL touchdown, to the lows of an injury that stripped away his sophomore campaign, Hollins has been through a lot. But he’s just one week away from a potential revenge tour.
After undergoing a sports hernia surgery in the early stages of the 2018 offseason, Hollins missed a huge chunk of Training Camp and preseason due to a lower-body injury, prompting the team to carry some extra depth on the roster. But that injury would send Hollins to IR and cut short any hopes of building on his 227-yard rookie season.
The injury hampered Hollins deep into the 2019 offseason too, with OTA’s and a chunk of Training Camp being written off while he rehabbed away from the heart of the action. When he finally returned, it was only a matter of days before a new injury reared its head. Luckily, it was short-lived, but Hollins was dropping down the pecking order…and fast.
Greg Ward Jr. and Marken Michel were both rapidly emerging as preseason standouts and although Hollins was able to get on the field and register 4 catches for 26-yards, his spot on the roster was in jeopardy.
But through it all, the Eagles remained loyal to Hollins, refusing to give up on him ahead of his third NFL season amidst durability concerns. The lifeline keeping Hollins in the game was his prowess on special teams.
A four-year special teams captain at UNC, the 6’4, 221 lbs, receiver played in 50% of the Eagles special teams snaps as a rookie and there’s no doubting his presence on Fipp’s unit will be a welcome return in 2019. That may be his lifeline, but now the story goes on, the next chapter could be an exciting one.
The Eagles currently don’t have a backup slot behind Nelson Agholor and we already know that the Birds are now prioritizing size over speed. This was evidenced by their search for a ‘big slot’ receiver pre-draft and by the current offensive shape. Ertz, Goedert, Jeffery, JJAW, and Hollins combine for one monstrous group that could all be utilized frequently down inside the opposing 20; An area of hefty focus for the Eagles.
Hollins scored his only NFL touchdown when working out of the slot. He caught a huge first down against the Panthers when working out of the slot. He caught a big pass over the middle against the Chiefs when working over the middle. According to Playerprofiler, Hollins played 6% of his 32% snap share out of the slot during his rookie year. But he’s much more than just a big body.
It’s a limited sample size, but in that rookie season, Hollins had a 72.7% catch rate (second among rookie receivers), averaged 14.1 yards per catch, (third-highest by an Eagles rookie) and averaged 10.3 yards per target, (third among all rookies). The ceiling is high…but can Hollins jump up and reach it?
Of course, it all comes down to two things: durability & depth. Hollins isn’t as high up the depth chart as he was back in 2017 and the position has more talent than ever. But that doesn’t mean he can’t come onto the field under-the-radar for a freak 30-yard reception, living up to his reputation as a deep threat. This is a big year for Hollins, but one that will ultimately be made or broken by his ability to get on the field and prove himself worthy of offensive playing time, and of course, staying healthy.