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Nico Collins

Preseason Scouting Notes: Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

Senior | 6’4” 222 lbs | Birmingham, AL

 

A long-striding X receiver who bullies smaller cornerbacks with hard box outs and provides a credible deep threat with good build up speed

 

Overview:

Nico Collins is the X receiver for Michigan’s power run-heavy spread offense, and has the prototypical body type to stay in that role at the next level. After coming to Michigan as a 4-star recruit, Collins earned a starting role in his sophomore season, earning the team’s award for Most Improved Offensive Player his sophomore year before winning the team’s Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior. He was Michigan’s designated deep threat last season and averaged a Big 10 leading 19.7 yards per catch. Collins is a long strider with a thick, muscular build who is more of a build up speed type than a quick twitch guy.

Strengths:

– Jumbo-sized combination of height, strength, and length gives him a sizable catch radius and size advantage against almost every defensive back he’ll face
– Wins above the rim with a strong box out and good ability to high point the ball
– Shows good top-end speed for a player of his size when he has the space to build up momentum
– Has a good fundamental understanding of how to manipulate DB leverage by altering his route path
– Ball tracking and body control stand out on deep ball opportunities
– Shows strong hands to pluck and snatch and pull in contested catches in crowded areas
– While not very elusive with the ball in his hands, he is still a weapon after the catch due to his combination of strength to run over weaker defensive backs and long speed
– Beats most press with ease due to good hand fighting skills and choppy footwork

Areas to improve:

– Will need to show a more diverse route tree in an expanded role. Has run primarily go routes and stop routes to this point
– Short-area burst, ability to change direction, and stop and start quickness are all merely sufficient
– Hasn’t shown the savvy to sit in vacated zones, vary his route speeds, or break toward open spaces in scramble situations
– Suffers from occasional concentration drops in open space
– Gives inconsistent effort as a blocker. Flashed high-end blocking ability, but is rarely engaged when doing so
– While his precision on routes when he uses hard cuts is good, he needs to work on his speed cuts to help create separation

Injury concerns:

– 2019: Missed Illinois game with what was called a “minor, minor injury”
– 2019: Undisclosed offseason surgery caused him to miss much of the spring
– 2018: Left Maryland game with a head injury, but returned later
– 2017: Ankle injury caused him to miss Maryland game

Projection:

Collins projects to be a true X receiver at the NFL level, where his ability to beat press and win in contested catch situations will be valuable. His ability to win above the rim and his good top-end speed should make him a good red zone option and credible deep threat. Due to his lack of short-area quickness and average route running skills, Collins’ ability to consistently separate at the next level is questionable, which ultimately hold his stock back. Expect him to enter the NFL as a solid No. 4 receiver who can work his way to becoming a No. 3 option and potentially even a starting X. He will likely be available early on Day 3 unless he can show a greater ability to separate in an expanded role this season.

What to watch in 2020:

With Donovan Peoples-Jones entering the NFL and Tarik Black transferring to Texas, Collins and his teammate Ronnie Bell will each have their roles increased. Since Bell played almost exclusively in the slot this season and was on the field more often, it seems that Collins role has more room for expansion. Expanding his route tree and becoming more of an offensive focal point will give teams a better understanding of his strengths and limitations. For example, Collins didn’t catch a single screen pass last season, and wasn’t put in many situations where he could show off his run after catch skills. Lastly, will additional consistency with quarterback play help raise his stock? Or will Michigan continue to survive in spite of dysfunctional QBs?

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