Nico Collins, the former Michigan receiver, is seeing his draft stock fall over concerns that he “lacks quickness and separation” which is blown completely out of proportion. These traits are the same ones that made teams pass on Kenny Golladay, DK Metcalf, and Chase Claypool, and each of them have proved to be major steals despite these “weaknesses”. Whether you’re an NFL scout or just a football fan, it’s critical that you take a much more in-depth look at Collins as a prospect.
Coming into college, Collins was a fairly raw player as he thrived on the basketball court but slowly made the transition to the gridiron. His teammates and coaches raved early on about his natural ability to dominate, but slowly their praises shifted to his ability to improve the finer details of his game.
Collins came into the program at Michigan with major expectations as a highly touted four star recruit, and he delivered with 78 receptions, 1388 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Some will say that his production fell far short of expectations, but a large amount of the production issues can be attributed to the poor play at quarterback. Former Michigan receiver Donavon People Jones was in the same exact position as Collins as he severely underperformed in college, but has since surpassed expectations throughout his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns.
Well, what type of player can Collins develop into at the next level?
He can develop into the big bodied “X” receiver role that falls alongside the DK Metcalf’s of the world. The 6’4 receiver is at his best when he’s bullying defensive backs with his above-the-rim playstyle and his stupidly strong hands. His floor in the NFL is being heavily utilized in the red-zone and jump ball situations as he’s routinely displayed phenomenal body control and positioning. While his game is predicated on the use of his enormous catch radius and elite body control, he’s uniquely savvy in his route running for a guy his size.
He’s showcased his adept understanding of using head-fakes and footwork in order to gain leverage and create separation. While the majority of his success will come from vertical routes, his technical footwork at the line of scrimmage will make offensive coordinators far more comfortable in expanding his role in an offense. The main concern is if he can handle an uptick in usage, but with his physical profile, that concern will be ripped to shreds.
Yes, Collins may not have the quickness of a Jaylen Waddle, or the separation skills of Devonta Smith, but his dominant athletic profile, alongside his above-the-rim style of play will give him a terrific opportunity to be the next big bodied receiver that ‘came out of nowhere’. The physical traits are all present, 6’4 size, 4.4 speed, very strong hands, but it’s up to the NFL organizations to maneuver past his “weaknesses” and hone in on his strengths.
While others are going to nitpick at Collins’s weaknesses, don’t be them, or else we’ll come knocking at your doorstep and have a crisp “I told you so” waiting for you.