Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 24th best player in cornerback Jalen Collins.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 51.5/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 53/100
Teams he is starter: 9 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 2 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 21 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +5
Positional Bonus: +4
The Falcons surprised many when they selected Collins in the second round of the 2015 draft. While the Falcons certainly had a major need at cornerback, expectations were that head coach Dan Quinn would draw a page from his days as a defensive coordinator in Seattle by looking for a developmental option in the later rounds.
After all, the Seahawks were successfully able to mine starters Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell with late-round picks. Since the arrival of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll in 2010, the team hadn’t used higher than a fourth-round pick on a corner.
But the Falcons felt that despite that trend, Collins was more than worth the investment. The stud from LSU only garnered 10 starts during his collegiate career, but made the most of them by shining in moments against quality SEC receivers. With his size, length and athleticism, Collins is a perfect fit in what Quinn looks for in corners in his press-heavy defensive scheme.
So high was the buzz on Collins that many felt he was the best cornerback prospect in the entire 2015 draft class. The Falcons hope to reap the benefits of that ability in the future, although it might not come as quickly as many hope.
Collins is gifted, but raw cornerback that will need time to develop in the NFL. However due to the dearth of proven depth at the Falcons’ cornerback position, that might not be time that the team has a luxury of giving. Collins is expected to compete immediately for the team’s vacant nickel cornerback spot, and all expectations are that he will win it by the end of his first summer.
If not, then the Falcons will hope that over the course of the 2015 season they will be able to insert him increasingly into their lineups, much in same way as they did Robert Alford during his rookie season. Alford too was a talented but raw specimen coming out of college that by the end of his rookie season was starting games in Atlanta.
That may not be the case with Collins in 2015, but there is the high probability that eventually he will get the opportunity to prove himself as a starter. Alford has just two more years remaining on his contract, and thus that gives the Falcons basically two years to develop Collins before he’s forced to start. If Collins proves a quick study in the meantime, of course the Falcons won’t complain.