The Atalnta Falcons selected cornerback Jalen Collins with the 42nd overall pick.
At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, Collins is an LSU product who fits the perfect physical mold for a cornerback; small enough to be fast and agile, but tall enough to compete for jump balls with wide receivers. He also has a good sense for the ball and his instincts when timing his jumps are quite good.
LSU also produced Patrick Peterson, now one of the elite corners in the NFL. While Collins is not on that level yet, he also is a terrific man-to-man corner, able to stick with any wideout and read routes when he’s matched up one-on-one.
Collins also has very good speed, as his 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds showed at the Combine. Even more impressive is his tape, when it becomes clear that he has game speed as well as track speed. He notably caught up with Melvin Gordon, thought by many to be the best back in college football, when forced to run 65 yards and bring him down. This type of relentless attitude also shows he’ll never give up on a play and always wants to win.
Collins isn’t as suited for a zone scheme since he’s not at his best when backpedaling, unable to break out of it as fast as needed when receivers run quick, punchy routes. He’s much better off getting his hips around and running with the wideout, rather than trying to anticipate and react to the throw itself. There are also some concerns about him due to only getting seven starts at LSU in 2014 and notching just a single interception. Can he be counted on to start in the NFL if he only started half of the time in college?
It’s hard to find a corner who fits better into the physical box than Collins, a player with all of the intangibles and outstanding athletic ability. He simply needs to develop a bit more, learning some of the finer points of the game. If he does, he has a chance to follow in Peterson’s footsteps in time.