Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
Pro Day Results:
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds
3-cone: 6.71 seconds
Short shuttle: 4.32 seconds
Collins suffered a partially torn ACL as a high school freshman. But he rebounded to total 103 catches for 1,968 yards and 25 TDs over his final 2 seasons at Clay-Chalkville High School in Alabama. He was a 4-star prospect according to most scouting services and received nearly 20 scholarship offers, including from Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Miami.
Collins opted to join HC Jim Harbaugh at Michigan (a decision which likely cost him a bunch of money on his rookie deal). He was lightly used as a true freshman in 2017, catching just 3 passes across 4 appearances.
Collins captured a significant role in 2018, though. He led that team with 632 receiving yards and ranked 2nd to only fellow sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones in catches and TDs. The raw numbers weren’t big -- but that was a bad Michigan passing game that ranked 80th in the country in yards per game. Collins’ market shares look better: 17.0% of the receptions, 22.5% of the receiving yards and 25.0% of the receiving scores.
Collins out-produced Peoples-Jones across the board in 2019 -- although it was sophomore Ronnie Bell who led the team with 48 catches and 758 yards. Collins missed the Illinois game that year but improved his market shares in his 12 outings: 17.1% of the catches, 23.8% of the yards and 31.8% of the TDs. His 19.7 yards per catch ranked 11th in the country among guys with 30+ grabs.
Collins planned on returning to Michigan for his senior season. But he decided to opt out and start prepping for the NFL Draft when the Big Ten originally decided to postpone the season due to COVID in August.
Courtesy of FF Astronauts
Games watched - Ohio State (2018), Florida (2018), Penn State (2019), Alabama (2019)
Collins is at his best in contested situations. He’s 6’4 with a 37.5-inch vertical, so he can sky above most DBs.
He also has nice awareness and body control to win back-shoulder balls. This next clip has Collins matched up against Kendall Sheffield, a 2019 4th-round pick of the Falcons.
This isn’t a Sage Surratt, though -- a guy who wins only with contested-catch skills. Collins has a nice release package. And while he doesn’t dominate as a route runner, he does flash the ability to create separation.
Here’s Collins winning on an out route vs. C.J. Henderson, the 9th overall pick of last year’s draft.
Collins is underwhelming after the catch, where he doesn’t play nearly as athletically. His speed plays, and he runs with some power. But he rarely makes defenders miss. According to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, only 26.9% of his yardage at Michigan came after the catch.
A crappy Michigan passing offense muted Collins’ raw production. His sophomore and junior year market shares pass breakout thresholds, though. And the tape shows a guy who can win in the big receiver game while also flashing route-running potential.
Collins blew up his Pro Day, registering a 4.45-second 40 time, a 76th percentile vertical, a 78th percentile broad and an 86th percentile 3-cone at 215 pounds. He earned a 95th percentile Relative Athletic Score. And remember that he was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school.
So there’s plenty to get excited about here.
We’ll see how the NFL views Collins. Former college teammate Donovan Peoples-Jones had a similar profile as far as production, size and athleticism -- and he fell to the 6th round of last year’s draft. It’ll be tough to be too excited about Collins if he slips that far. But if he can even sneak into the 3rd or 4th, he’ll be an intriguing sleeper in dynasty rookie drafts.