Matt Waldman’s RSP Pre-Draft Scouting Report Sample: Texans WR Nico Collins

Matt Waldman’s RSP shares its pre-draft scouting report of Houston Texans’ ascending talent, Nico Collins. Waldman graded Collins as an immediate rotational starting talent with additional growth potential.

WR Nico Collins Scouting Profile

RSP Ranking: WR27

Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 School: Michigan

Comparison Spectrum:  Courtland Sutton-X-Allen Lazard

Depth of Talent Score: 79.2 = Rotational Starter: Executes at a starter level in a role playing to his strengths. On the cusp of a Contributor, which means starter production in a limited role and diminishing returns outside of that responsibility.

The Elevator Pitch for Collins: When you examine the comparison spectrum for Collins with Allen Lazard on the low-end and Courtland Sutton at the upper range, you’re looking at players who have a lot in common when factoring strength, ability to play the ball in the air, and to some degree, route tree. The variable that distinguishes one from the other is explosive athletic ability.

Sutton has no worse than Starter-Tier speed and short-area explosion. Lazard has a mix of starter and committee athletic traits. Collins’ athletic ability is somewhere in between Sutton and Lazard. However, he’s closer to Lazard and it means consistency of play and opportunity will factor mightily into him even getting a shot to contribute like Lazard.

Collins has the speed to threaten the vertical range of the field and the mobility of his knees and hips to sink his weight into hard breaks. This combination of athletic traits makes Collins a promising perimeter option who can bait defenders into guessing whether he’s running a timing route that breaks in the shallow and intermediate ranges of the field or whether he’s going deep. His double-moves further exacerbate the challenge for opposing defenders.

He tracks the football like a pro, winning down-field against tight coverage and hard contact. He also earns separation with quick-breaking routes, using his size and short-area explosion to earn the ball on the move.

Collins is quick enough to make defenders miss in the open field and big enough to carry pursuit on his back. Although his lack of college production will turn off those who live by its analytic gospel, Michigan didn’t have the system or quarterback play to get the most from its receiving talent. Donovan Peoples-Jones showed glimpses of that during his rookie year in Cleveland.

Collins has contributor upside, and either with additional improvements or the right fit, he can start as a possession-plus player.

Where has the player improved? Collins has added more footwork to his portfolio of releases from the line of scrimmage.

Where is the player inconsistent? Collins release work vacillates between patient-but-sudden and lacking urgency. He needs most of his snaps to keep defenders guessing.

What is the best scheme fit? Collins plays flanker in the Michigan offense. He has the potential to do the same in the NFL or be the receiver placed on an island on the backside of a formation where he has plenty of room to operate one-on-one as a match-up option.

What is his ceiling scenario? If Collins’ speed is good enough, he could start for a team and deliver 60-70 catches for 800-1,000 yards and 8-10 scores during a peak year. A mid-range expectation would be 35-50 catches for 500-700 yards and 3-5 scores.

What is his floor scenario? Collins’ speed isn’t as good as I expect and he struggles to earn separation against man-to-man coverage. In this case, he’s closer to Lazard’s physical upside as a player who needs to be schemed open in the vertical game. It would be safe to keep expectations low in this case—a fourth or fifth receiver on a depth chart unless injuries or ineffective play from contributors ahead of him results in an opportunity.

Physical: Collins is difficult to pin to the boundary or bring to the ground with contact above the waist.

Technical: He’s effective at pairing release moves together at the line of scrimmage—different footwork as well as his feet and hands.

Conceptual: He understands when not to show his eyes to the quarterback as he’s breaking across a zone, preventing his eyes from tipping off the nearest zone defender.

Intuitive: Collins has a good feel for tracking the ball, knowing when to leave his feet and when to stay on the ground.

Build: Collins is a well-built receiver capable of using his size to earn and maintain position during a variety of route breaks.

Releases: Collins has a staggered stance with 80/20 weight distribution to his front leg. He gets lower than his stance as he releases from the line, rolling off his front foot and moving his arms with a wide range of motion as he sprints with his pads over his knees. He has some reps where he rocks off his back foot.

Collins’ hands rest on his knees in a crossed position when in his stance against off-coverage.

His simplest combination to get off the line is a read step with a wipe.

He uses a two-quick release pattern combined with an arm-over/chop against man coverage playing within two yards of the line of scrimmage. Collins uses a quick-three to release inside in similar situations.

He’ll combine a pair of two-quicks to set up a fade, but he has to do more to sell these moves for the defender to buy into them. The movement isn’t patient but sudden.

Collins has a four-step stutter with a chop that he uses when singled up to one side and working outside the cornerback playing tight to him. He uses a violent chop with his outside arm to establish position as a setup for a lean-in of the defender before breaking to the middle of the field.

Collins has a double up that he uses to get inside or outside against tight coverage at the line. He’ll pair it with a wipe when working to the inside. With receiver screens, Collins will use a double-up without his outside foot.

His combination of a hesitation and two-quick is patient but sudden and effective when using it to release inside a defender. However, his hesitation move when used alone lacks the exaggeration/dynamic movement to earn separation against a patient cornerback.

Against tight coverage at the line, Collins has a one-step stretch away from the defender’s leverage before working into the defender’s short arm and then takes the back of the opponent, using an arm-over/chop to work through the opponent’s reach. Another move in his arsenal is a hesitation to attack the inside leverage of the corner and then swat past the opponent’s reach as he releases to the outside.

When blocking on the backside of a run play, he’ll use a two-quick or another footwork pattern to steal a release from the defensive back. He’s patient but sudden with these moves, including the hesitation step.

Collins uses the shed with his inside arm when a defender reaches for him as he releases outside the opponent.

Separation: Collins earns separation when running intermediate and vertical routes. Indiana’s cornerback, who didn’t jam Collins on a second-quarter go route in 2019, had to interfere with Collins at about 25-35 yards because Collins was pulling away. He took a pass across the middle for 75 yards and outran a cornerback 60 of those yards and the cornerback was five yards away from Collins for 55 of those 60 yards.

He’ll stack an over route if he earns the separation early enough to do so.

Route Stems: Collins takes the back of the defender off the line or into his stem whenever the defender gives it. He will also work into the toes of the defender and attack the defender’s leverage at a high rate of speed.

Route Setups: Collins understands how to dive inside and stair-step the route to set up a break across the middle. When he works past the corner in zone and has a safety playing over the top to the inside and Collins is working up the boundary, he’ll deliver a hard stab to the inside and sell it with his head and shoulders. This earns him separation past the safety if he delivers the move about 5-7 yards underneath the opponent.

His stop-and-go route is effective at earning him 1-3 steps on a defensive back playing a shallow cushion. He earns a good weight drop with the stop portion of the route.

Route Breaks: Collins’ speed breaks with route stems tight to the boundary are flat against tight coverage. He runs the route with proper depth and breaks back to the quarterback or runs out his breaks from the opponent. Collins is conscientious about getting his head around early on quick-breaking routes. He will also work back to the quarterback when the first break doesn’t earn him a target.

Collins drops his weight well with two types of hard breaks. He has a quick drop-and-pop for his stop routes in the flat. He also has a long break step with a good drop-and-three with short stop routes. He’ll work back to the quarterback out of the break.

With most of his breaks, he’s good at working towards the football so he can attack as early as possible.

Zone Routes: Collins identifies the second-level defender and doesn’t show his eyes to the quarterback on crossing routes against zone until he’s cleared the defender who can buzz into his space and cut off the route. He’ll also throttle down into open space after building to depth against the coverage over the top or the shallow zone.

Route Boundary: Collins uses the toe-tap to stay in bounds and displays effective awareness of the boundary when running perimeter routes.

Pass Tracking: Collins makes appropriate decisions to leave his feet against tight coverage when the target isn’t high enough to normally call for a leap, but based on his position against the defender, the leap will help him make a cleaner, unfettered attack of the target.

He doesn’t leave his feet unnecessarily when addressing targets on routes where many receivers feel compelled to leap or lack the confidence in their tracking skills to trust that the ball is arriving at a trajectory where they can keep their feet on the ground.

Hands/Catch Radius: He uses overhand position at chest-high targets when he’s leaping for the ball. He has late hands on back-shoulder fades against tight coverage, limiting the potential of tipping off the arrival of the target. He can extend his arms to reach knee-high targets of sinking passes arriving shy of the target in-stride.

Collins also attacks the ball with overhand position with his arms extended when working back to the ball on comebacks, hooks, and curls where the target arrives at the beltline. When running slants, Collins extends his arms away from his chest with tight coverage at his back or side and trying to cut off the target.

He can use underhand position with beltline targets against tight coverage and win the ball while taking contact to his back.

Collins will attack the ball at the earliest point when wide open in the middle of the field.

Position: Collins understands how to execute an effective pull-down to turn his back to the opponent playing tight coverage on a back-shoulder fade. He’s a strong receiver who can pull the ball away from the reach of the defender as they are falling to the ground with the target in contention.

He has an effective jump back with fade routes against tight coverage at his back hip and the ball underthrown.

Focus: Collins can take a hit to his chest as he catches the ball close to his frame while airborne. He maintains position despite the hit and being dropped hard to his back on the ground.

Transitions: Collins catches and pierces downhill. If he uses a move to avoid the first defender immediately after the catch point, he’s not making the move to square up the defender but to defeat the man moving downhill. He also obeys the ball’s location as a target and works to that side of the field with his transition.

Elusiveness: Collins has an effective spin move when catching the ball in traffic and transitioning downhill.

Vision: While catching the ball in traffic, Collins has a feel for where to turn and run.

Power: Cover corners have difficulty tackling Collins in the open field when forced to wrap him high. He can drag them another 7-10 yards in these scenarios. In tight traffic, he drops his pads and has a good lean with his gait at the end of runs.

Direct Contact Balance: Collins runs through direct hits and wraps to his chest by smaller safeties and cornerbacks in the open field.

Indirect Contact Balance: He bounces off glancing shots and he’s the type of receiver that defensive backs must hit and wrap if they are going to attack him high.

Blocking: Collins patiently works inside and downhill against off coverage when stalk blocking so he can earn the angle necessary to cut off the defender’s path to the ball. He earns a squat and square stance to the opponent and extend his arms to the defender with them bent and to the chest of the opponent. He moves his feet after establishing contact.

When he works tight to a defender in Man-Over-Me assignments and takes the air out of the interaction, Collins is tough for a defender to disengage. Collins works his hands inside after the chest-to-chest approach, and uses his legs well to power the defender downfield while maintaining a strong grip into the crown of the jersey.

Collins earns a flat lead inside to cut off a safety on Most Dangerous Man assignments.

Ball Security: Collins tucks the ball to his outside arm with a high carriage that’s loose at the elbow.

Durability: Collins missed a pair of games early in his career with a concussion and one game in 2019 with what was described as a minor injury that was left undisclosed to the media.

Pre-Draft Fantasy Advice: Collins could earn a pick in the fourth or fifth round of the NFL Draft. If this occurs, he could be a fourth-round option in a lot of rookie drafts. If he falls to the late portion of day three or he’s a UDFA, you can get him in the sixth or seventh round, if not as a UDFA after your draft ends. Think of Collins as a patience play who may generate moments as a rookie that validate your belief in his long-term upside.

Boiler/Film Room Material (Links to plays):

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse of children. 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: