Mack Hollins' Release Latest Mistake Made by Eagles in 2017 Draft

Ed Kracz

The Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft Class suffered another casualty on Tuesday when the team released receiver Mack Hollins, who was picked in the fourth round that year out of the University of North Carolina.

The Eagles picked eight players in that draft and four are now gone: Hollins, running back Donnel Pumphrey (fourth round), receiver Shelton Gibson (fifth round), and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls (sixth round). So bad were Pumphrey and Qualls that neither of them is on an NFL roster. Gibson is on the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns.

Two others players from the Class of ’17 – cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas – don’t have much of a role anymore.

Jones, who came in the second round, was a healthy scratch against the Dolphins last Sunday. It was Jones’ second time this season being inactive despite being healthy.

Douglas was a third-round pick who also did not make it onto the field last Sunday, though he has played well in spots throughout his three-year career.

The only keepers so far are defensive end Derek Barnett (first round) and linebacker Nate Gerry (fifth round), who is a reserve behind Nigel Bradham and had some good moments as well as some bad filling in for Bradham when he missed four games this season with ankle injury.

To blame the failure of that draft on just general manager Howie Roseman wouldn’t be fair, since Joe Douglas was Roseman’s right-hand man and vice president of player personnel at the time. Douglas is now the GM of the New York Jets.

Perhaps Tuesday’s release of Hollins could be seen coming a day earlier when the Eagles brought in receivers Marken Michel and Darius Jennings for workouts.

Michel was one of the final cuts coming out of training camp and his preseason play led some to believe that maybe he should have been kept and Hollins releases. Instead, the Eagles sided with the draft pick and kept Hollins.

Guard Sua Opeta was promoted from the practice squad to take Hollins’ place and defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins was signed to the practice squad.

Hollins has been mostly invisible this season when the Eagles really needed him to step up, with season-ending injuries to DeSean Jackson and injuries to Alshon Jeffery that cost him three games and Nelson Agholor, who missed one game.

Because Hollins was unable to raise his level of play, the Eagles signed Jordan Matthews off the street. Matthews played two games and was released as the team promoted Greg Ward from the practice squad.

Through it all, Hollins did nothing of note, even though offensive coordinator Mike Groh and receivers coach Carson Walch always had nothing but praise for Hollins, saying, when prompted, that the receiver does a good job of lining up the right way and is doing everything asked of him. Or it was “the ball just didn’t go his way,” they would say.

Hollins went his final eight straight games with the Eagles without a catch, despite playing 209 offensive snaps in that time. Incredibly, he was targeted just five times in that span.

Not even special teams could save him. Hollins’ role on those units became increasingly smaller as his offensive snaps increased.

Hollins was effective as a rookie, showing great promise as a key piece to the offense. He averaged 14.1 yards per catch on 16 receptions, including a 64-yard touchdown reception against the Washington Redskins, but he missed his entire second season recovering two groin surgeries.

This season began promisingly, with a five-catch, 50-yard game against the Atlanta Falcons in the second week of the season that was followed up with four catches for 62 yards a week later against the Detroit Lions.

Four days after playing the Lions the Eagles went to Green Bay for a Thursday night game. It there that Hollins made his final catch with the Eagles, though nobody knew then that the innocuous 13-yard reception he made against the Packers would be his last one as an Eagle.