Eagles Expect an Expanded Role for Mack Hollins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - With Torrey Smith on his way to Charlotte and receivers coach Gunter Brewer having arrived from Chapel Hill, it's pretty clear that the hope in Philadelphia is that second-year receiver Mack Hollins will be able to take on a more significant role in 2018.
Conventional wisdom in the NFL says that the biggest leap in development for any young player occurs in Year 2, a thesis that really can be traced back to human nature.
Instead of preparing for the biggest job interview of one's life at the combine and the uncertainty of the draft, a player like Hollins, a 2017 fourth-round pick, can now simply focus on getting better.
Instead of the actual upheaval in his life and being thrown from Tobacco Road to South Philadelphia while being asked to sink or swim as both a professional and from a personal sense, things have slowed down.
And never underestimate the idea of comfort, especially for a kid in their early 20s.
Remember how awkward starting a new job felt to you and how easy things became when you settled in?
Fans often forget players are human beings and more often than not immature ones when they are thrown into the NFL often away from any familial structure with a lot more money than they are used to. It doesn't take much to imagine how dangerous that cocktail might be.
It's a hurdle that is navigated every day by all 32 NFL teams with dozens of players but Hollins is not exactly high risk.
He's a good kid who has his head on straight and works extremely hard after he steers his now somewhat famous bike down Pattison Avenue to the NovaCare Complex, a routine that is now second nature.
By a rookie's sophomore season things have slowed down and it's time to get down to the business of being a better professional.
For a time at least the rangy 6-foot-4 Hollins looked like he would lap Smith about midway through the 2017 season, showing a propensity for making big plays while the veteran struggled with consistency catching the football.
Smith recovered a bit in the second half of the campaign, however, and played his best ball in Philadelphia when it counted most, in the postseason leading up to a Super Bowl LII victory over New England.
Long-term, though, it was pretty evident that Hollins was here to replace Smith as the team's deep threat opposite Alshon Jeffery and the UNC product will get every opportunity to do exactly that as Howie Roseman has already agreed to ship out two receivers: Smith and Marcus Johnson.
You need a Plan B with everything in life and more bodies will be brought in at the position but Hollins, who was more productive on a per-snap basis than Smith as a rookie in the small sample size of 287 reps, is by far the leading in-house candidate for the expanded role, outpacing Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs.
Meanwhile, his former position coach -- Mike Groh -- is now his offensive coordinator and the Eagles brought it Hollins' old college OC to be his new position (Brewer) coach in 2018.
Everything has been laid out for Hollins to make the expected leap in Year 2 and now it's all about executing it.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen