Philadelphia Eagles: Mack Hollins vs. Shelton Gibson is a must-watch matchup

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

After being drafted 48 picks apart from 2017, Philadelphia Eagles fifth and final wide receiver spot could come down to Mack Hollins or Shelton Gibson.

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ 2017 draft class has been fairly disappointing.

Sure, the team selected once and future starting defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round, and added a pair of potential contributing cornerbacks in Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones, but Howie Roseman and company really struck out on the offensive side of the ball with their eight selections.

I mean the team traded up to select Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round for goodness sake, and it would be a minor miracle if he even appeared in an NFL game at this point

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With eight players selected the first six rounds, five of the defensive side of the ball (Barnett, Douglas, Jones, Nathan Gerry, and Elijah Qualls), and three on offense in Pumphrey, Mack Hollins, and Shelton Gibson, the Eagles have already waived three of those players in the two odd years since their initial selections.

One could even argue that the most prolific player from the team’s 2017 draft class wasn’t even in it at all in undrafted free agent running back turned Super Bowl 52 hero Corey Clement, who also just so happens to have his playing time potentially downgraded thanks to the recent addition of Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard.

And with Philadelphia Eagles training camp set to open up over the next few days, that number could swiftly drop to from six to five, as Gibson and Hollands appear locked in a knock-down-drag-out bout for the team’s fifth and final wide receiver spot.

The one corner is Hollins, a 6-foot-4, 2221-pound super size wide receiver with supreme chops as a gunner on special teams.

And in the other is Gibson, a 5-foot-11, 198-pound 25-year-old from Ohio with straight-line speed and plenty of experience sitting on the Eagles bench.

Coming out of college, both players were among the top deep threat options in the country, with Hollins averaging 20.6 yards-per-catch over his final two seasons at UNC, and Gibson averaging 22.6 over whose tenure with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

In a pre-DeSean Jackson world, one or both of these players was looked at as a potential outside burner, capable of taking the top off of opposing defenses, but now, the duo have swiftly taken back seat to the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, 2019 second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and D Jax himself.

But just because a fifth wide receiver won’t catch 30, 40, or 50 balls in 2019, that doesn’t mean either player can’t have an impact on the game and even be active on game days.

Far from it.

Between Hollins’ innate ability to run down the field really fast and tackle return man, and Gibson’s ability to contribute in the return game, it’s entirely possible the team could opt to keep both players around for the foreseeable future – or at least through training camp in case one of the two suffers an injured reserve-caliber injury.

Now sure, the competition for the Birds’ fifth wide receiver spot isn’t a two-dog race, as players like DeAndre Thompkins, Braxton Miller, and AAF standouts like Greg Ward and Charles Johnson, but baring an outstanding performance by one of these gentleman, it would incredibly surprising to see a player who isn’t Hollins or Gibson on the roster come September.

But which player should be the odds on favorite to win the Eagles’ fifth and final roster spot?

Hollins, Mack Hollins.

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If Hollins can stay healthy, a feat that’s been incredibly hard since his first season in the league, Hollins still has the best physical gifts and the highest upside of any wide receiver on the Philadelphia Eagles roster even including the team’s starters. While he may never develop into a bonified star – or even a starter – Hollins is the kind of player who sticks around on an NFL roster based on his physical gifts alone and may even be active on game days because of his willingness to get down and dirty on special teams.