NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
I typically try not to scout underclassman before they declare for the draft, but I got into a discussion with another draftnik who’s opinion I respect a lot and he had asked if I had watched any of Collins tape yet and if not that I should. Boy am I glad I did. There is a lot to like when watching him and spoiler alert, this is the type of player I really want the Patriots to draft this year. Here is what I saw when I watched several games of Alex Collins.
I was so excited that work was finally slowing down and I would be able to focus more on scouting that I went ahead and got so sick I basically didn’t move for a week. I am on the mend now and am going to try and pump out a couple of these reports this week, so fasten your seat belts. Bowl season is right around the corner, then the Senior Bowl and before you know it the Combine will be here. I have a lot of prospects to get through so lets not waste any more time.
Name: Alex Collins
School: Arkansas (Jr.)
Weight: 216 Lbs.
When you can average 5.6 yards a carry in the SEC you are doing something right. Collins runs with tenacity and power. He rarely goes down on first contact and keeps his legs moving to fall forward and gain that extra yard or two. He runs with good patients and vision. Collins will wait for the play to develop and then shows good lower body explosion and balance to burst through the hole. On many occasions he will ride the back of his offensive lineman to maximize every yard possible on that particular play. He does not have elite speed but showed enough to break off some longer runs. What I like about Collins is that he is not looking to bounce everything outside to get that home run play. He excels at running between the tackles and can wear a defense down to eventually break a big play. From all accounts, he has been an excellent locker room presence and no issues off the field as well. I also really like that Collins was able to step up and be a guy the team could count on after Arkansas other talented Running Back got hurt in the preseason.
One thing that I noticed when watching Collins was his footwork. He is not really a dancer in the backfield, but he takes a lot of small choppy steps that seem unnecessary and inefficient. This happens even when he gets to the second level. He is still moving forward and it certainly has not hurt his production, I just feel like he could clean up his footwork a little. Another area Collins could look to improve would be as a pass catcher. As you can see from the stats above he is not a huge threat coming out of the backfield as a pass catcher. If he wants to stay on the field for all three downs, his route running and hands must get better. His pass protection will have to improve as well. The effort seems to be there, but his technique is hit or miss and that must be cleaned up. Collins has some ball security issues, but not so bad that it is a huge concern for me, but we know the fastest way into any coaches doghouse is to put the ball on the ground.
I really like Collins as a runner and as a fit for the Patriots. He may not be as flashy as some of backs coming out, but he is a tough, smart, downhill runner that has maximized his opportunities. He may never be a home run hitter or break any defenders ankles with his moves, but Collins should have a long, productive career in the NFL. Like I said before, he seems like a perfect fit for the Patriots with the way they use a committee in the backfield. Guys like Henry and Elliot will be drafted well before Collins, but I see nothing to say that Collins could not be as productive as those 2 backs at the next level. Collins is for sure a top 100 player for me and if the Patriots want him, they may have to either trade back with their 2nd round pick or trade up with their 3rd.