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June 21, 2017

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: Mack Hollins

During the dead period of the NFL calendar, as we did in 2015 and in 2016, we'll be comparing each of the Eagles' rookies to current or retired NFL players. Today, we'll take a look at fourth-round wide receiver Mack Hollins.

In case you missed the first three entries of this series, you can find them here:

First round: DE Derek Barnett
Second round: CB Sidney Jones
Third round: CB Rasul Douglas

In our first edition of this series, we compared Barnett to a player that represented something of a "floor" in comparison, as in something close to a worst-case scenario. We'll do the same for Hollins here.

A number of people have compared Hollins to former Eagle Hank Baskett, because of their size-speed similarities, as well as their special teams contributions. In my view, Hollins is more explosive than Baskett, and could be a special teams standout, as opposed to just another special teams contributor. The player who I think he more closely mirrors in that respect is retired wide receiver Kelley Washington, who bounced around the league, playing for the Bengals, Patriots, Ravens, Eagles (preseason only), and Chargers.

Washington's best seasons came in New England (surprise), where he routinely did stuff like this on special teams:

However, Washington never really put it all together as a receiver in the NFL, as he had just 120 career catches for 1500 yards and 12 TDs. He did, however, make the most of his touchdowns when he was able to get into the end zone:

(There's no way I wasn't going to include that dance video, obviously.) 

Washington played at 6'3, 218, and had a 40 time of 4.42. Hollins measured in at the Combine at 6'4, 221. His 40 time at the Combine was just 4.53, but he injured his leg during his run, and is thought to be a player who would have otherwise run in the 4.4 range.

Like Hollins, Washington was a down-the-field receiver whose draft stock was hurt to some degree because he was injured his last season in college. He eventually became a star special teamer, but little more.

Hollins' work on special teams at North Carolina impressed special teams coach Dave Fipp.

"When I watched his tape, I saw a lot of plays," said Fipp. "He made a lot of plays, so we're excited to use him. I think he'll fit in well. I think he'll find a role for himself, but I do think he's got some work to do. But we're excited about him."

Because Washington was not able to carve out a significant role in any offense he played in, he bounced around the league.

"There's a lot of people who say, 'You can make the team on special teams.,' and I wouldn't necessarily say that's totally true," said Fipp. "You really have to make the team on offense and special teams, or defense and special teams. But it's usually a combination of both. There's not a whole lot of guys who just play special teams and have no other value. And if there is a guy like that, there's not many on each team. In order to make the team on just special teams alone, you better make an awful lot of plays."

Because he became something of a "special teams only" guy, Washington bounced around the league. Howie Roseman thinks that Hollins is a lot more than just a special teams maven.

"It was the receiving ability first," Roseman said. "You're talking about a guy who's got tremendous size and tremendous speed. We feel like if he didn't have the collarbone [injury] this year, he goes two rounds before that. Tremendous upside as a receiver, and he's got the intelligence and work ethic to work on whatever his deficiencies are. In the meantime, he has a role to fill [on special teams] and you can get him on the field on the 46-man roster. But we're not looking to draft [just] special-teams players in the fourth round. We're looking at a guy like that who's got the ability to be an eventual starter."

While the notion that Hollins would have been a second round pick if he didn't injure his collarbone is a little far-fetched, Roseman is correct to point out his ideal combination of size and athleticism. 

At a minimum, Hollins will very likely suit up on game day this year covering kicks and punts. As such, his "floor" comparison would be a guy like Baskett or Washington. We'll see if he can eventually make an impact in the regular offense.

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