Rookie Profile – Nico Collins

Nico Collins - WR - Michigan

Nico Collins is one of the few wide receivers in this draft class that provides a true alpha wide receiver profile, giving him an intriguing rookie profile. Michigan is a blue blood program that has struggled to produce high end offensive skill position players that translate to the NFL in recent years. Collins looks to change this narrative with the Houston Texans this year. 

Draft Results

Round: 3
Pick: 26
Team: Houston

Measurables

Age: 22

Height: 6′ 4″

Weight: 222 lbs

40-yard dash: 4.42

3-cone drill: 6.78

20-yard shuttle: 4.29

Vertical Jump: 37.5″

Broad Jump: 125

Bench Press: 14

Analytics

College DOM College YPR College Target % Breakout Age
27.3%
19.7
15.6%
19.5

Credit: Playerprofiler.com

College Stats

Receiving Formation
Year
Team
Class
GP
Rec
Yds
YPC
TD
Snaps
Slot Snaps
Wide Snaps
2017
Michigan
Fr.
2
3
27
9
-
-
-
2018
Michigan
So.
13
38
632
16.6
6
586
16
569
2019
Michigan
Jr.
12
37
729
19.7
7
586
7
579
2020
Michigan
Sr.
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
College Career

Nico Collins was a four star prospect out of Birmingham, Alabama that decided to take his talents to Michigan rather than staying within the SEC. His freshman year, Michigan struggled to find a consistent presence at quarterback and Collins was buried on the depth chart. He only produced 3 receptions for 27 yards. Heading into his sophomore year, there were rumblings that he was turning heads of coaches and players. He delivered on the hype by providing a deep threat to Michigan’s new quarterback Shea patterson. Collins provided 38 receptions for 632 yards and 6 touchdowns, leading the wide receiver core in receiving yards.

Going into his junior year, he continued his development and provided Michigan with 37 receptions, 729 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Collins and Ronnie Bell were neck and neck in yards, providing second year starter Shea Patterson a reliable receiving core. Collins decided to make a return for his senior year, but no one could predict the COVID pandemic and the impact it would have on the college landscape. He decided to opt out for the 2020 season and prepare for the draft. Analytically, Nico Collins tested well during his pro day, providing results that translate into a 89th percentile Speed Score, 77th percentile Burst Score, and a 65th percentile Agility Score at 6’4” and 222 lbs. These results confirm the size/speed combination that he put on display during his college career. 

Scouting Report

Positives:

Collins provides a reliable target for his quarterback, consistently coming away with the ball. He catches with soft hands and works his way back to the ball when needed. At his size, he provides a large catch radius that he utilizes in contested catch situations. His ability to get to the top shelf and pluck the ball away from the defender is top tier in this class. He positions himself well in those contested catch situations, using his bigger frame to box out defenders. Nico also uses his size when he blocks for his teammates. He is very physical and is able to hold his blocks rather than just getting in the defender’s way like many incoming rookie wide receivers. 

For his size, Collins possesses good route running ability. He occasionally demonstrated an ability to get open by manipulating the defender within his route. Additionally, he has a quick release at the line of scrimmage and stacks defensive backs well. Nico played the role of field stretcher and deep threat while at Michigan. While he doesn’t have enough speed to be considered a burner, he has plenty of speed to translate to the NFL when he gets to the open field.

Negatives

While I mentioned blocking as a positive, occasionally he doesn’t give his full effort when he doesn’t think the ball is going his way. That translates to blocking and he sometimes struggled consistently getting in front of his block. He lacks top end speed, but possesses enough to provide an intimidating size/speed combination. Finally, he doesn’t have true quickness which is rare to find in a wide receiver of his size. He has solid releases and breaks, but his lack of quickness is holding him back from being a top end route runner in this class. This leads to him relying on his size more often than getting open through quickness and route running prowess.

Post Draft Analysis

Draft Capital:

Houston Texans: Round 3, Pick 26

Landing Spot:

Predicting how NFL teams would value Nico Collins was difficult pre draft because he didn’t have the massive production of a Ja’Marr Chase to fall back on when he decided to opt out. But the Houston Texans weren’t worried when they selected Collins with the 26th pick in the third round. The Texans’ wide receiver room looks vastly different than it did a couple years ago due to the departure of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller and additions of Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. 

Nico Collins is walking into a pretty open wide receiver depth chart. It is assumed that Brandin Cooks will be the wide receiver one for the offense. But behind him is aging verteran Randall Cobb as well as Keke Coutee and Isaiah Coulter who have yet to impress in their young careers. Collins has every opportunity to secure a starting wide receiver position early in the season. But even if he does get on the field, there is a massive question mark at the quarterback position with the off the field issues that Deshaun Watson is facing. Without Watson, that offense looks to take a massive step back with most likely Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills leading the charge.

Fantasy Impact

Nico Collins is walking into a situation where he can make an impact right away. He provides alpha wide receiver stature and potential. But regardless if he can make it on the field, the quarterback situation is very murky as of right now. In redraft leagues, Collins could be rostered as a late round flyer in deep leagues. It would be surprising if Collins provides much production this year, but if something were to happen to Cooks there could be a lot of targets headed his way. In dynasty leagues, he is going towards the end of the second round into the early third round of superflex leagues. This could prove to be a great investment as Collins provides a very high ceiling in the future due to his alpha profile and size/speed combination. But on the flip side he also has a low floor with all the uncertainty surrounding him and the organization that drafted him.

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Image Credit: Isaiah Hole – USA Today Sports