Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain,
DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall, OT Joel Honigford, OT Andrew Stueber, OT Chuck Filiaga, WR Oliver Martin.
|Pinson, AL – 6'5", 200|
|Scout||4*, #178 overall
|Rivals||4*, #120 overall
#17 WR, #6 AL
|ESPN||4*, #150 overall
#21 WR, #5 AL
|24/7||4*, #200 overall
#29 WR, #8 AL
|Other Suitors||UGA, Bama, LSU, FSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Nico Collins is, in a word, huge. "Incredible size," says Rivals. "Quintessential red zone weapon," says 24/7. "Ideal size and length," says Scout. A "mammoth target," says ESPN before getting more specific about his physical attributes:
…tremendous height and is a one-on-one nightmare on fades, redzone shots and underneath slants and crossing routes. … huge wingspan and long levers. … fast enough especially considering his size.
I mean, look at this wingspan photo to end all wingspan photos:
This here blog just spent a very productive afternoon trying to extrapolate a measurement for that wingspan from different photos and came up with something along the lines of Collins's height plus two or three inches. That's approximately 80", barely behind Devin Funchess's NFL-combine-best 83". And as a bonus, Allen Trieu asserts he's grown an inch between January and his arrival at fall camp.
Nico Collins casts a long shadow at noon. In this everyone is agreed.
Everyone also agrees that Collins is a mid-to-high four star somewhere between 120th and 200th nationally. Scouting reports get a little wobblier once you start drilling down—praise for his hands leavened with the occasional cautious note, that sort of thing—but in general describe an uncommonly gazelle-like huge person. SBN's Alex Kirschner:
…it’s not easy to have good body control when you’re a high-schooler and you’re 6’5. But when Collins runs routes, he looks fluid. He can run dig routes across the middle at any level of the field. He can take a screen pass and run behind blockers. And at his size, he’s obviously dangerous on fly patterns down the field and fade routes to the corner. … he’ll require safety help on a lot of his routes, opening up lanes elsewhere on the field. He’ll be a tremendously valuable player to have, whether his numbers are huge or not.
Scout's Chad Simmons from the Opening:
…not a burner at close to 6'6" … but he showed a bounce in his step … may have surprised some with how he moved … really covers a lot of ground quickly with his long strides and he sneaks up on some defensive backs in coverage. hands have gotten better and more consistent. … has been known to fight the ball some, but last week, he really received the ball well, and caught just about anything that he could reach."
Scout also caught him at Michigan's camp:
big, did not drop a pass on the night as he showed excellent hand-eye coordination and concentration. …can change directions better than many kids his size. … great upside.
Collins has the height and arm length of a tight end but retains enough mobility to be a threat across the middle, on screens, and underneath—especially because job one of anyone in coverage on him is not getting beat vertically by a guy with the catching radius of two guys standing on top of each other.
Collins's hands and ability to make a play in traffic are also consistently praised. ESPN:
… capable of outmuscling and shielding DB's from the ball and makes for a wide catch radius … not very crisp … room to improve footwork. … big, strong hands … Focus and concentration when in a crowd is very strong and he does a great job of adjusting to the ball. … Wins more jump balls than most receivers not only because of his size, but timing as well. … significant jump ball weapon and redzone mismatch. Does not need to beat DB's over the top to win vertically due to size, body control and range to elevate. …easy to label Collins a pure possession type, but he has more juice than that athletically. Runs well enough and his size is obviously appealing.
… gigantic, smooth and polished wide receiver prospect. … red zone weapon if ever there were one. …. can box out a defensive back in space and then go high-point the football. … doesn't need to blow the top off a defense to be effective in the downfield passing game. … He catches passes over the middle without fear, he knows how to adjust in the air, he knows how to use his body and attacks the football with his hands.
Rivals's Alabama site:
…excellent hands and is better after the catch than given credit for, has displayed consistency and physicality as he's grown into his 6-foot-5 frame. Collins can challenge most defensive backs at the high point and he is a willing blocker on the edge.
…great body control … room to fill out and he has reliable hands. He doesn’t get a ton of separation on film but he provides a nice window for the ball, adjusts to poorly thrown balls and is a red zone nightmare … willing and physical blocker.”
A report from his Opening regional performance praised his ability to "high point the ball with ease" and noted his body control and long arms; Scout's eval asserts he is a "very dependable wideout who catches the ball well in traffic"; a 7-on-7 reports asserts he's "very sure-handed." Some of that tracks backs to his hands which are, like everything else about Collins, oversized.
Unfortunately for Michigan fans' ability to crow on twitter at satellite camp skeptics, Collins's stock fell appreciably over the course of his recruitment. He dropped a fifth star at Rivals and slid out of a couple other top 100s to land where he is currently: a very good but less than elite prospect.
Given his frame it does not surprise that the main reason for the drop is a lack of jets. Rivals on their decision to bump him down:
…sometimes vanishes in games … big-time prospect for sure, but there are more sudden, explosive wide receivers in the country.
…potential is sky high. … he hasn’t spent his senior season always living up to his lofty ranking. Collins goes in streaks and has a tendency to go quiet for long stretches despite his overwhelming physical advantages.
It's not always a WR's fault when he falls out of an offense (see his YMRFSPA for a tragic instance of that principle). Collins did have a drop in production as a senior but it was relatively minor. He went from 60 catches for 1100 yards to 46 for 900 over his last two years in high school. "Vanishes" is pretty harsh, especially given the vagaries of high school quarterbacks and offensive lines.
Another, likely more valid, complaint was that Collins didn't light it up at either the Opening—where he had a couple of okay games before withdrawing with an injury—or the Army game. The pile of rapturous Oliver Martin chatter from the previous post is largely absent. Only Rivals actually chose to say something negative; in addition to the above they mentioned that he "went quiet for the most part during all-star season":
…impressive build … solid hands but struggled to get separation from top-flight defensive backs. … he’ll need to become more explosive to develop into a truly elite college talent.
This is probably because Rivals was far higher on Collins than their competitors and Collins's performances were in line with others' expectations. They're not necessarily wrong: there were a bunch of guys being talked about at the Army game and Collins was not one of them. That says something if we're trying to distinguish between a potential five star and a merely very good prospect.
Another potential issue is Collins's debatably sloppy route-running. There are plenty of brief camp evaluations that say he's great, but the more skeptical takes have more specifics and ring true. Touch The Banner:
…does not have great speed and is a long-strider as a runner. … short-area quickness is [an] issue, and that affects his route running. He is a little bit sloppy with his routes and needs to improve in that area to create separation."
Collins' overall consistency with his route running could use some work. … won't be able to afford sloppy technique …false step habit.
I'm also guessing that Collins is going to have some issues adjusting to press coverage. It might take a minute for Collins to absorb the finer points of getting past it, and a year or two to build the strength to shove folks off of him.
Once he does, though… what if Funchess was a wide receiver from the drop and played with Jim Harbaugh quarterbacks? I'd like to see that. I hope we do.
Etc.: Go dad:
"I'm a Michigan fan through and through,” the elder Collins said laughingly. “I could be in Jamaica somewhere (and) I'm still a Michigan fan. Yeah, I'm a Michigan fan through and through. The football down here is pretty tough, but you like to be true to your team. You grow up as a Michigan fan or any fan, that's who you like to ride with."
Why Devin Funchess? Obvious. Funchess is the biggest receiver in Michigan history and Collins will match or even surpass his size in time. Funchess was a low-four star thanks to a Rivals whiff, with most folks incorrectly labeling him a TE. His effort level late in his career was questionable, with good reason, but he was still a second-round pick and immediately an NFL starter. Collins will need a couple years to get up to 230 or so to match him.
As for other comparables, pick anyone in the huge leaping guy mold that is increasingly common across college football. Michigan played 6'5" Oregon State WR Jordan Villamin recently, along with BYU's all-enormous WR corps. Mike Evans of Texas A&M. Kelvin Benjamin at FSU. Etc. Etc. Anywhere there's a gent who's not covered when he's covered.
Guru Reliability: Very high. All Star game, zero positional projection, pretty tight range.
Variance: Moderate. Separation issues are a thing and conjure the specter of Jeremy Jackson on the downside. Could end up being just okay because WRs aren't usually that big for a reason.
Ceiling: Vast. WRs aren't usually that big, and if he pulls it off…
General Excitement Level: High. I'm not quite as high on Collins as the rest of the WR class, which is insane, but in most years he'd be the headliner.
Projection: Likelier than the rest of the class to redshirt because Martin comes in as the most polished WR in the last decade of Michigan freshmen and both DPJ and Black enrolled early. I'm not sure there's room to play four freshmen WRs, and it sounds like Collins has the most work to do (unless he doesn't).
Again, it's difficult to project these WRs because they are all outstanding prospects. Chances are someone gets pushed aside and someone becomes a #1 to rival Braylon. Either could be Collins, or he could settle into a redzone weapon and #2-#3 WR for the duration. I don't know. I do know that whoever does start is going to be the veteran of a danged war and is more likely than not to be nationally elite.