The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Mack Hollins in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles wide receiver, I reached out to SB Nation's North Carolina site: Tar Heel Blog. UNC writer Akil Guruparan was kind enough to answer my questions about Hollins.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
Mack walked onto the team his freshman year and immediately became the team's special teams captain, which should tell you about the effort he puts in on a daily basis. After his freshman year where he mostly just played special teams, he became the team's best deep threat: he never led the team in catches but led them in yards both his sophomore and junior seasons. His sophomore season was marred by inconsistent quarterback play (as in, the coach swapped quarterbacks mid-game consistently because he didn't know which one should start), but he still got his numbers, with 35 catches for 613 yards and 8 touchdowns. He really broke out in his junior year, with a stabilized QB situation and a passer who loved to throw deep. He actually had fewer receptions than his sophomore year, with 30, but turned those catches into 745 yards (leading the nation in yards per reception) and 8 more touchdowns. UNC only lost 2 games that season, so that's when he got noticed. His senior year, he was looking to turn in a similar performance, but was injured halfway through the season, which ended his college career. He had 16 catches for 309 yards and 4 TDs through 6.5 games.
2) What are his strengths?
Measurables and intangibles. Hollins is 6'4'' with 4.51 speed, and once he gets going, he's way faster than that number. He's a great jump ball target downfield and gives a QB a lot of room for error with his catch radius. He can also separate pretty effectively with just his speed. In terms of intangibles, Hollins was the team's STs captain all four years he played for UNC. He's a relentless worker and plays every snap like it's his last. He puts his team ahead of himself; his season-ending injury his senior year was caused by him adjusting to an underthrown deep ball even though getting there meant getting sandwiched by two defenders (he secured the catch even though they broke his collarbone). Also, his hands don't always look natural, but they're secure.
3) What are his weaknesses?
He's a fairly raw receiver once you ask him to do anything other than one of the three deep routes (post, corner, fade). His short-area quickness isn't great, as you'd expect from a bigger guy, so his short and intermediate routes aren't much to write home about. He's also not much of a tackle-breaker. He'll play through contact at the catch point, but not so much as a runner. Unless you hit him in stride into open space, he often goes down soon after the catch. That wasn't a problem for UNC with his absurd YPC and 20+ TD percentages, but it's something to look out for.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
I thought he would go a little lower than he did just because he was coming off injury, and seeing the injury slides of people like Jake Butt (fell ~1.5 rounds), Sidney Jones (fell 1 round), I thought Hollins would go 5th at the earliest. Granted, a broken collarbone isn't as serious as an ACL, but it was still surprising to see him go high 4th. His talent is absolutely worth the spot, though; there's no denying that. Even if he's just stretching the field, there's a place in the NFL for that. Had he been healthy all season, this is about where I would've seen him being drafted.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
I think Hollins' role will change very little from college to the pros. He's not going to be an every-down receiver, but he'll be a consistent home-run threat with his size and ability to get open downfield. He might become a fan favorite because of his special teams work and the fact that all he seems to do is score touchdowns, and I think those two things will give him a long NFL career.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Mack is a little weird, but in the best way. He wants to own an aquarium after he's done with football, for example. But he's a consummate teammate and has had zero character problems or even rumblings of discontent. He retweets stuff about his teammates and fellow UNC athletes constantly, and the bond between all the UNC receivers was obvious during his career. He did grow up a Steelers fan, though ...