The New England Patriots have become a master at getting players who were considered busts in the draft and turning them into successful players. Long referred to as the “Patriot Way” it is often assumed that just because they have the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick he gets the most out of players. While this is no doubt a part of the process, what Belichick does in part that is considered genius is get players to play to their strengths.
The Patriots have learned that some players can’t do everything, but allowing them to just do what they do well can allow them to thrive. Play a zone corner in zone coverage only, don’t have 3rd down only backs get a bunch of hand offs. This sounds beyond simple, but so often we see teams to fail to do this. Getting players who excel in a role to do that and only that has won them games year in and year out.
This in part leads to my draft strategy in the first three rounds I want guys who have developed games: players who can become starters and contribute in multiple ways. In the later rounds, I look for guys who excel at one thing. Guys who you can get to contribute in a big way that you know will be great at the one thing they do best. They may struggle in other areas, but being great at one thing can often work better than being solid at a whole bunch of things.
This year one of those players is Mack Hollins out of North Carolina. Hollins gets great separation, using speed, route running, and the ability to track the ball to make plays down the field. On top of his vertical ability Hollins was also the special teams captain. He can cover kicks and punts and brings an added special dimension, something very rare for a 6’4” receiver.
Per Pro Football Focus Mack Hollins scored 15 of his career 20 touchdowns on passes 20 or more yards down the field. In his career, Hollins averaged 20.6 yards per catch, his junior year he averaged a ridiculous 24.8 yards per catch.
Hollins tested well at the combine at 6’4” 221 lbs he ran a 4.53 second 40-yard dash before hurting his hamstring and not being able to finish the rest of his drills. His adjusted speed score put him in the 88th percentile so it’s scary to think he plays even faster than he tested.
Look how fast Mack Hollins closes 10 yard cushion from corner.
He's left the secondary in the dust before they even know what's happening. pic.twitter.com/9QJ3IzbMmE
— Taylor Vippolis (@tvippolis) April 13, 2017
Hollins can beat both off coverage and press coverage. He has good footwork at the line of scrimmage and strength to beat press. If and when he beats press there better be a safety over the top or else its game over for the defense.
If I was down to my last $100, I'd bet it all on Mack Hollins.
Best deep threat WR in draft. Passes defenders like they're standing still. pic.twitter.com/ohhiwcUXve
— Taylor Vippolis (@tvippolis) April 12, 2017
Hollins isn’t just a speed demon on the outside, he can track the ball over his shoulder nicely. He shows good body control and can adjust to an under thrown ball. His contested catch ability is rarely shown off because of the way he can get behind the defense so it is a question mark
His special teams ability should not go overlooked either. Often day 3 players will be asked to contribute on special teams. It’s an easy way to stand out for a player to earn a roster spot. Rarely are the guys who cover kicks 6’4” with elite speed. Special teams coaches will be salivating over the possibility of getting him on their team. The below play gives you an idea of the kind of player he is on special teams. He isn’t just a great athlete, but has a high football IQ.
Mack Hollins w/ one of the best special teams plays I have ever seen (overturned on illegal block foul) but incredible awareness regardless pic.twitter.com/rf4eLESDSC
— Ryan Booher (@bootang25) March 23, 2017
While Hollins excels in both roles the rest of his game is very raw. He needs to develop his route tree if he is to ever be more than a third wide receiver on a team, but from day one he can impact to two different facets of a team’s game. As a day 3 pick he comes in with a perfect price tag. He may develop his game and become a big-time threat at receiver or he may stay who he is currently is.
No matter what Hollins can consistently take the top off a defense and be a key contributor on special teams which makes him a huge value in the draft.