Could have issues getting pushed around by NFL tight ends, wide receivers
Summary: It can be hard for freshmen to become instant starters and playmakers in college football. They are competing against players who are 2-3 years older and have spent more time in the strength and conditioning program for the more physically demanding level of play. Holland was an exception to the trend, becoming a star defensive back in his first season with the Ducks. He totaled five interceptions, six passes broken up and 44 tackles that seaosn. As a sophomore, he improved his tackle production to 66 while continuing to make plays in pass coverage - four interceptions and four passes broken up. He also averaged 15.3 yards per punt return in 2019. Holland then decided to sit out the shortened 2020 season rather than play as a junior.
Holland stands out on tape due to his excellent athleticism and significant speed. Thanks to his physical talents and versatility, he could potentially play some cornerback or even contribute on offense. He has a lot of physical talent to do a variety of things, but the best plan for maximizing his utility could be to keep him at safety and let him excel at his natural position.
Holland is a real weapon in pass coverage, and his ability to run with receivers excites NFL evaluators. He shows the ability to pick up his receivers downfield and blanket them in the deep part of the field. Holland is fast and has the speed to run with wideouts vertically. He is also somewhat effective at covering big receivers, although he does not have truly great height or length; he simply competes hard enough to get it done. Holland also can play nickel corner and cover man-to-man on slot receivers.
For zone coverage, Holland has good instincts and quality route-recognition. He displays good vision to read the eyes of the quarterback and sees receivers well, allowing him to pick them up when they come into his area. Holland uses his speed, vision and instincts to serve as a rangy zone safety who covers a lot of ground in the middle of the field. He has a burst to close on receivers and uses that second-gear speed to jump routes and make plays on the ball. Holland demonstrates very good ball skills and is a dangerous threat to pick off passes. He is a true ball hawk on the back end.
Holland is a willing run defender as well, using his speed to come downhill like a blur and make tackles. While Holland is not the biggest of safeties, he does not hesitate to get physical and will deliver some hard hits. He should gain some weight and tack on additional strength to tackle pro backs. Additional weight could also help him with durability.
As an added value, Holland is an excellent special teams player who was a dangerous returner and a good contributor on coverage units for Oregon. He probably won't be the starting punt or kick returner as pro to protect him from injury, but he could contribute by returning in clutch situations or help his team close out a game if there is an injury to the primary returner. Similarly, Holland could plau on some coverage units, but it would be better to save him for the defense.
Holland is a better fit for the NFL at free safety because he is undersized, plus he can contribute as a slot corner. Even though he was durable at Oregon, he could end up having injury issues in the NFL if he is consistently the eighth man in the box against on pro linemen, tight ends, and backs in the ground game. Holland looks capable of being a difference-maker early in his NFL career and a starting free safety.
Because of size concerns, Holland looks like a potential second-day pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he could end up being a sleeper steal who returns excellent value for where he was taken.
Player Comparison: Budda Baker. Holland reminds me of Baker coming out of Washington. Both faced size concerns but were clearly natural football players with excellent instincts and the versatility to defend both phases. Baker has turned into a good NFL starter after being a second-round pick, and Holland could follow that same path as a pro.