The Denver Broncos selected former Oregon edge rusher Justin Hollins in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was seen as a bit of an athletic freak who could get to the quarterback, but would need refinement to his game at the NFL level.
Who better to help him hone in his skills than Vic Fangio and his staff who are themselves coming off coaching the best defense in the NFL last season.
Justin Hollins Profile
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 248 pounds | 40-time: 4.50 seconds
Arm length: 33 3/8” | Hands: 10 3/8”
Bench press: 25 reps | Vertical jump: 36 1/2” | Broad jump: 119 inches
20 Yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds | 3-Cone drill: 7.06 seconds
Justin Hollins was a steady contributor with the Oregon Ducks, expanding his role on defense each season. He added to his sack total each year and had a way of jarring the ball loose forcing five fumbles in his senior season.
As a fifth round pick, he’ll have an inside bead on a roster spot behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but Fangio has also been pressing Hollins to learn the insider linebacker positions as well. Second-year linebacker Josey Jewell was asked about Hollins’ transition inside and have nothing but good things to say about that.
“He seems to be doing great so far just being able to transition from the nickel packages and then in base [defense] going back to outside linebacker,” Jewel said. “It would be pretty tough, I think. You just have to be able to go home and study a little bit—maybe an hour a day or more—and just be able to understand the different types of concepts you’re trying to learn with different packages.”
However, his athletic talent does seem to be a natural fit at the edge position.
As we noted in our pre-draft profile on Hollins, his measurables are intriguing to say the least. If he can hone his natural athletic ability into superior technique, then the Broncos may have found themselves quite the steal in the fifth round.
He has all of the tools, so now its on him and the coaches to figure out how to use them effectively at the NFL level.
For now, any situation involving stopping the run could expose Hollins. He’ll need - and is likely already getting - to be coached up to improve his game against the run. However, with Miller and Chubb entrenched as starters, this shouldn’t be a huge concern early on.
It will be interesting to see how well he transitions inside, because that could be how Hollins finds a more regular role on this defense in the future.
Hollins has taken his shift inside in stride, seeing it more as a opportunity than a drawback.
“It’s really just being able to see more [at inside linebacker],” Hollins said of how playing inside is different than playing outside. “There’s a lot more going on that you have to be involved with than outside. Outside is more just [an] on-the-edge type of thing. Inside you have to know where two, three [people are], you have to see where the back is. You have to know what the guard does on the snap of the ball. You have to key people. There’s just a lot more going on on the inside than there is on the outside.”
Justin Hollins highlights
Justin Hollins’ roster status with the Broncos
In my opinion, Hollins will be a lock to make the 53-man roster this season. Most draft picks do. The only way I see this changing is if he has a terrible training camp and just isn’t cutting it at the NFL level.
So far, through rookie minicamp and OTAs, the response to Hollins has been positive. It looks like he is doing the things he needs to do to compete and earn that roster spot. That was what Joseph Yun of Addicted to Quack felt Hollins would when he was guest on our Something Something Broncos podcast after the draft.
Hollins was a hard worker in college and has carried that work ethic into the NFL. That makes me think he’ll stick around on that final 53-man.