Biggest beneficiary of Torrey Smith trade

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Midway through the 2017 season, it looked like Mack Hollins was on the verge of replacing Torrey Smith in the Eagles’ receiver rotation.
 
While the big-ticket veteran Smith was struggling – just 15 catches for 221 yards the first nine games of the season – Hollins, the fourth-round rookie from North Carolina, was showing flashes, most notably with that electrifying 64-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins.
 
As it turned out, Smith finally got it together and was solid down the stretch, with 13 for 157 in the postseason, and Hollins only had nine catches for 71 yards the last 11 games of the season.
 
But it was only a matter of time before the Eagles asked Hollins to replace Smith.
 
The Eagles on Friday traded Smith and his $5 million salary cap figure to the Panthers for cornerback Daryl Worley, and Hollins, who carries a $714,283 cap figure, is the likely beneficiary.
 
As of now, Hollins moves up from No. 4 to No. 3, behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.
 
Can he handle it?
 
Hollins showed a lot last year in limited playing time. He separated himself from the Eagles’ other rookie draft pick, fifth-rounder Shelton Gibson, early in camp and found himself in the rotation on a championship team from the start.
 
Although his numbers weren’t anything special – 16 catches for 226 yards and that one long TD – Hollins demonstrated a lot of qualities the Eagles like.
 
He’s very smart with a tremendous work ethic, he’s an unselfish team-first guy that fits the Eagles’ culture, he’s big and fast, he’s got soft, reliable hands, and he runs crisp routes.  
 
With Marcus Johnson going to Seattle in the Michael Bennett deal, the Eagles have very little experience at wide receiver behind Jeffery and Agholor, who both played so well in 2017.
 
Hollins, Bryce Treggs, Gibson and Greg Ward lead the next group, and while the Eagles could still add in the draft, as of now Hollins will be expected to make that big first-to-second-year jump that so many receivers make.
 
Can Hollins do in 2018 what Smith did in 2017? Or more?
 
There’s no reason to think he can’t.
 
Consider this: Hollins as a rookie played 39 percent as many snaps as Smith (735 to 287) and had 44 percent as many catches and 52 percent as many yards.
 
So on a per-snap basis, he was actually more productive than Smith.
 
And the fact the Eagles went out and hired his college position coach, Gunter Brewer, certainly gives even more weight to the notion the Eagles expect Hollins to have a bust-out season in 2018.
 
Jeffery caught 25 passes as a rookie and 89 in his second year, and while that kind of improvement is extreme, it’s realistic to think Hollins could be a 45-catch, 650-yard guy in 2018.
 
Hollins is young and inexpensive. He’s exactly the type of player the Eagles need to make a big jump if they’re going to maintain their success moving forward.

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