Shaq Barrett injury may kick the door open for Deon Hollins, Jr.

With the hip injury to OLB Shaq Barrett, it gives an opportunity for Deon Hollins, Jr , an UDFA who played DE/LB at UCLA. Unless Denver decides to stay with a limited depth chart or to bring in a FA, ‘Ferrari D’ has an opening to make the team. With his speed off the ball, and desire to block, he may make a spot on Special Teams. However, since he has a nose for the pass, if he works on his technique in space, and shores up his tackling against bigger players, he has a good shot as being more with Barrett missing 3-4 months.

As the lone undrafted rookie free agent that’s a versatile inside/outside guy, he may have a leg up on any other. The only thing that could be standing in his way, is where he weighs in. According to his father, ‘Ferrari D’ was planning on staying in Englewood to keep working with Strength and Conditioning coach, Luke Richesson to pack on the poundage. 6’0/230 puts him in that odd size range that limits where he can play.

Hollins, Jr is one of those players who’s on the borderline, but his size gave him a mental edge. The underdog mindset. Like another smaller sized DE, Dwight Feeney. In his 32 games as a Bruin, he had 13.5 sacks, 61 total tackles, 5 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.

With a long list of accolades since high school, why did he go undrafted? One could guess it was a combo of the changes at UCLA, plus his size. He chose the Bruins’ 3-4 defense and then linebacker coach, Jeff Ulbrich. However, two different coaches and scheme changes later, stunted Hollins’ promise. Nothing kills a rising star more than scheme and coaching changes for the worse. In addition, coaches had learned to double and triple cover him. This limited his production.

Had he entered the draft after his junior season, Hollins would’ve been taken elsewhere. Hollins, even while being double covered still managed to be 2nd Team All-Conference.

Since Denver used over 400 different combos last season, he could be used as a pass rush specialist in some packages. I’d say he or Tyrique Jarrett are each other’s competition to fill that spot as long as a pricier and more experienced LB isn’t brought in like, Elvis Dumervil.


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