2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Nico Collinsby Mike Fanelli April 24, 2021 2 comments
The 2021 NFL Draft is loaded with talented wide receivers. However, Michigan’s Nico Collins is a likely mid-round sleeper. Like several players, Collins opted out of the 2020 college season because of Covid-19. However, in his previous two seasons, Collins totaled 76 catches for 1,361 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. Despite poor quarterback play, Collins consistently made plays at Michigan. So, what does Collins’ NFL future look like? Let’s dive into it.
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Name: Nico Collins
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 215 lbs
In the games watched, Collins displayed strong natural hands. He made several impressive catches both in the red zone and between the 20s. Collins has a natural ability to adjust for the ball in the air and secure the catch. If Collins gets his hands on the ball, chances are he will make the catch.
Contested Catch (14.5/15)
Collins does a great job adjusting to the ball in the air. When targeted downfield, he did an excellent job tracking the ball in the air and making the high point catches. Collins uses his size and length to box out defensive backs. He does this whether high pointing a catch downfield or in the red zone. Whether it’s a 50-50 ball or back should fade, Collins has the size and strength to make contested catches.
Route Running (9.42/10)
An underrated aspect of Collins’ game is his route running. He isn’t a one-trick pony or even two or three tricks. Collins is capable of running routes on all three levels and being a weapon in the red zone. Whether it’s on a downfield route or quick slant or double move, Collins showed the ability to make an impact running multiple styles of routes. Collins also did a good job working his way back to the quarterback and getting open when the quarterback got forced out of the pocket.
Not only can Collins use his size and strength to box out defensive backs downfield or in the red zone, but he can create separation in the open field. He sets defenders up at the line of scrimmage, getting the advantage to release inside or out at his choosing. Against man and zone coverage, Collins did a very good job getting defensive backs to bite on double moves. Against Ohio State in 2018, Collins had a comeback route that was so sharp the cornerback was five yards away from Collins when he made the catch. While his biggest advantage is his size and length, Collins can create separation without it.
Whether it’s a 50-50 ball or back shoulder fade, Collins has as much chance of coming down with the ball as any wide receiver in the draft class. To go along with his excellent ball tracking skills, Collins did a great job timing his job to get the ball at the high point. Against Ohio State in 2018, Collins tracked a deep throw on a post route, high pointed the ball and came down with it over two defenders in the middle of the field despite taking a hit. If you need someone to make a high-point catch, Collins is your guy. Furthermore, Collins scored in the 76 percentile or better in both the vertical and broad jump at his pro day.
At his pro day, not only did Collins impress in his jumps, but his three-cone drill and 40 time. Even at 6’4” and 215 lbs, Collins ran a 4.45 40 time. He also ran a 6.70 three-cone time. Both of which scored in the 71 percentile or higher. Furthermore, during his final year at Michigan, Collins was used more as a downfield threat, averaging almost 20 yards per catch.
This trait is where Collins struggles a little. While he is quick and agile in his route running, Collins lacks quickness after the catch. Collins struggles to change direction quickly in the open field. Because of this, he rarely picks up big chunks of yardage after securing the ball.
Yards After the Catch (6.58/10)
While he is strong and won’t go down on a poor tackle attempt, Collins doesn’t have the quickness or burst to create after the catch. His speed will allow him to run away from potential tackles, especially if the defender takes a poor tackling angle. However, he doesn’t have the fluidity in his lower body to juke or shake defenders in space.
Red Zone (5/5)
Every receiver has a strength to their game, and making plays inside the 20 is Collins’. Whether it’s a 50-50 ball, back should fade, or even a quick slant route, Collins is a threat to score every time targeted inside the 20. Thanks to his over 34-inch arms, Collins can make ridiculous catches outside of most receivers’ typical catch radius. Just get the ball within his reach, and Collins will come down with it.
With his size and strength, this isn’t a surprise. Collins showed strong hands when blocking in the games watched. Unlike many college receivers, Collins won’t over extend his arms and push. Instead, he will get his hands inside the defender’s pads and drive them back using his lower body. Collins would be late to block on a screen pass or get beat to the blocking point by a quicker defender at times. However, that was more the rarity than the norm.
After his career season in 2019, Collins could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft and likely would have been a day two selection. However, he decided to return to Michigan for his senior season. When Covid-19 hit, Collins opted out and prepared for the 2021 NFL Draft. The time away may impact how teams view him, but it shouldn’t. He can make plays at all three levels, especially downfield and in the red zone.
During his time at Michigan, Collins performed despite horrible quarterback play from Shea Patterson. Even with the terrible quarterback play, Collins made several plays that should catch the eyes of NFL evaluators. If Collins played at Clemson with Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State with Justin Fields, we would talk about him as a first-round wide receiver. Whichever take snags him in the middle rounds will have found a No. 1 receiver for the next several years at a discount.
Final Grade (88.42/100): Late First Round
Player Comp: Allen Robinson