Mack Hollins happens to be a wide receiver I am very familiar with. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 4th round back in 2017. Before signing with the Las Vegas Raiders, Hollins was regarded as a special teams ace, after collecting 8 tackles in 2021. The question is what has changed so drastically?
Hollins Finally Breaks Out
Mack Hollins was headed into his sixth season in 2022 with just 98 career targets over his first five seasons. The 6’4 225 pound receiver has always had the physical tools to be a solid receiver, that’s what made his career in Philadelphia so underwhelming. In 2017 as a rookie Hollins was involved as the fourth receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor. However he finished the season 7th in total targets with all three tight ends being used more frequently.
Hollins would achieve the highest form of success winning a Super Bowl as a rookie with the Eagles. During this amazing season he was targeted 22 times catching 16 passes for 226 yards and 1 touchdown producing 8 first downs and an average of 14.1 yards per reception. Heading into year two it looked like Hollins had a chance to grab a larger target share. That is until he suffered an injury that would result in a trip to injured reserve in 2018. He would not play in 2018.
During the 2019 season, his last in Philadelphia, he caught 10 passes for 125 yards. This is when his struggles with drops were at an all time high. His catch percentage sunk below 50% for the first time in his career. During a season in which they had JJAW, Agholor, Jeffery, and Greg Ward, Hollins had been regulated to the 5th receiver spot.
It didn’t help his case that Philadelphia selected a similar player Jj Arcega-Whiteside who stood a bit shorter than Hollins but ultimately served a similar role offensively. After 9 weeks and 12 incomplete passes thrown his direction out of 22 attempts, Hollins was released.
Miami See’s Something in Hollins
He would sign with the Miami Dolphins to finish out the season. This began a 2 1/2 Season stint with Miami. Playing in 4 games primarily on special team as a gunner. He was targeted just one time, It fell incomplete. Despite the lack of any statistics in 2019, the Dolphins opted to keep Hollins for depth at wide receiver and his special teams acumen.
Brian Flores and his staff seemed to like the skill set Hollins brought to Miami. Over the next two seasons Hollins would play in every game for the Dolphins collecting 14 tackles on special teams alone. He was targeted 53 times in two seasons, catching 30 passes for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He would set career highs in 2021 with 28 targets, and 4 touchdowns. He only managed to catch 50% of his targets in 2021, but with a new staff coming in, his time in Miami was effectively over. This time he landed with another Belichick disciple this time it was Josh McDaniels head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. When he joined the Raiders he had just 98 career targets, and 11 starts. He totaled 56 receptions for 750 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Solid numbers for a #4 wide receiver but not exactly what you’re looking for in a number 2. Despite this fact, here we sit heading into week 15 of the NFL season. Hollins has played in all 14 games, starting all but 1. He has been targeted 85 times catching 51 passes for 628 yards and 4 touchdowns. However McDaniels hasn’t only used Hollins as a receiver.
So far this season the Raiders have given Hollins 4 carries that he turned into 40 yards, and he attempted a pass that was completed for 4 yards. He has also collected 3 tackles. With three weeks remaining Hollins is on pace for: 18 targets, 12 receptions, 135 yards and 1 touchdown.
Waller and Renfrow Set to Return
With Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow set to return from injury, these averages may fall slightly over the next three games. Regardless, it appears by seasons end, he will likely top his career totals in just one season with the Raiders. This break out season by Hollins is a good problem to have for a team I would have expected to prioritize receiver in the draft.
Now with Waller, and Renfrow back it’s likely his target share drops but his production per target rises with more and more single coverage coming his way. Say what you will about McDaniels but he certainly has helped extend Mack Hollins’s career this season. The question is can he repeat this performance in 2023 and beyond or is he a one year wonder?
Looking closely at his statistics you can see that he simply found his way into an offense that desperately needed him to step up. This year was more about Next Man Up than it was planning for Hollins to start from day one. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders attempt to build on his performance in 2023 by bringing him back as the day one starter opposite of Davante Adams.
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