The Denver Broncos selected edge rusher Justin Hollins in the fifth round. Here is our draft profile on the new Broncos draft pick.
At most positions I’ll be the first to tell you that athletic testing is a bit overrated. Orlando Brown is proof that you don’t need to be a great athlete to be a good tackle, for example. That simply isn’t the case at Edge rusher, where numbers matter a great deal. The tape is critically important, but it’s wise to look at some of the shorts and t-shirt numbers when you decide to throw darts at the wall.
A few numbers I pay close attention to:
-40 time, specifically the 10 yard split.
-3 cone drill
I tend to wait until the Combine before I start to really dig into edge rushers. There’s always going to be exceptions where a prospect is simply too darn technical or explosive to ignore, but I try to use my time on other positions ‘til I know if a guy’s got the tools.
Needless to say, Justin Hollins has the tools. Even better, he has the production to back it up, with 14 sacks, 36 tackles for a loss, 7 forced fumbles and 8 batted passes during his 3 years starting for the ducks. He’ll need seasoning, but the 6’5 240 lb Hollins would be a great developmental prospect for Fangio’s Broncos.
-Sudden. He’s an explosive athlete with good lateral mobility.
-Will threaten to tackles off the snap.
-Looks comfortable with pass drops. You can sleep easy if he’s in space.
-There are better prospects at bending the edge.
-Hands could get better. Will need to develop more rush moves.
-Needs to get stronger.
What I’ve heard/read
Three-year starter with athletic ability and length teams look for from edge talent. Hollins has shown consistent growth as a prospect and flashes every-down potential at times, but his lack of consistent aggression and force could be a limiting factor. He should find special teams reps early on, but his future might very well be defined by his team’s ability to develop and unlock his capacity as a disruptive pass rusher.
Justin Hollins brings impressive athletic ability to the edge and as he continues to build some additional power and strength into his hands, he should be more effective to create favorable angles for himself. Hollins flashes short area quickness to disrupt gaps up front, but he’s not quite keen on finishing just yet. Hollins needs to create more separation for himself in his efforts to be balanced as he challenges opposing QBs and ball carriers. Promising upside in space. Round Grade - Fourth Round
Rob Rang (@RobRang) says: ”Hollins to me is the one that I think is going to be the first Oregon Duck drafted. I did not expect to say that half way through the season, even toward the end of the season...But when he went to that East-West Shrine Game and was asked to play more of a traditional stand up linebacker role, and his athletic ability really caught the attention of some of the people there. He’s 6-6, 250 and watch, he is going to end up running in the 4.5s. He can fly...There’s a perception that he still has untapped potential. I have some reservations that he could be a bit of a tweener. He’s not big enough to play defensive end and not quite agile enough to play linebacker. But he is going to workout so well, that somebody is going to convince themselves that they can make him into a linebacker.”
Of all the defensive linemen and linebackers in this draft class—and it’s the deepest defensive line class in recent memory—Hollins may be the most freakish athlete. At 6’5” and 245 pounds, Hollins has the athleticism to do everything from rushing the passer from the edge to covering receivers in the slot. Athletically, he brings former 49ers and Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson to mind. Hollins doesn’t always bring that athoeticism to the field in ways you’d want—he especially needs more and better moves as a pass-rusher—but if you’re looking for one guy to blow up the drills at his position, Hollins would be a good one to bet on.
Why he fits
Said this on the pod we just recorded, but it feels like every team’s needs include “middle of the field receiver, more pass rush depth, and another safety for nickel flexibility.” Might seem like luxuries, but it feels like roster building is behind where the game is right now.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) March 28, 2019
I had this to say about the Broncos need for edge depth.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb give Vic Fangio one of the more dangerous pass rush pairs in the league, but the depth behind them’s been gutted. Shaq Barrett has signed on with the Buccaneers in an attempt to start and make bank in 2020. Shane Ray has been rumored to the Colts.
While Jeff Holland should improve under the new coaching staff’s tutelage, it’s foolhardy to count on the current pass rushers behind the star duo. While I’ve long hoped Elway would kick the tires on former Bear Aaron Lynch, the draft is probably the best place to find long term help on the edge.
Justin Hollins fits what the Broncos should look for in developmental pass rushers to a T. He’s very long, incredibly athletic, and he’s versatile enough to thrive in the Fangio system.
Why he doesn’t
At least early on he’ll be a liability against the run and powerful tackles that can stonewall him. His rush moves are pretty rudimentary and his handwork in general needs work.
Hollins isn’t a finished product, not by any means. I doubt he’ll be the guy to threaten a rookie sack record. But he’s one of the more freakish athletes in this extremely loaded defensive line group and a guy that could blossom into an elite role player with Fangio guiding the way.