Alex Collins was a talented high school athlete coming out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals and was the 13th best RB in the 2013 recruiting class. He chose the University of Arkansas, where he played as a true freshman, and split time with Jonathan Williams, another RB prospect in this class.
In his junior year, Williams went down with an injury and Collins became the feature back, rushing for a school record 20 TDs, and being named second-team All-SEC behind Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette. He was named the MVP of the Liberty Bowl in a victory over Kansas State, rushing for 185 yards and three TDs. After that performance, he decided to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.
|August 26, 1994
|Bench (225 lbs.)
|20 Yard Shuttle
|3 Cone Drill
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd. split)
|60 Yard Shuttle
|University of Arkansas (2013-2015)
|271 att, 1,577 yards, 5.8 ypc, 20 TDs
|13 rec, 95 yards, 7.3 ypc, 0 TDs
|204 att, 1,100 yards, 5.4 ypc, 12 TDs
|3 rec, 9 yards, 3.0 ypc, 0 TDs
|190 att, 1,026 yards, 5.4 ypc, 4 TDs
|11 rec, 63 yards, 5.7 ypc, 0 TDs
- Powerful runner who gets consistent push with good pad level
- Consistently shows good leg drive and strong effort to drive tackles for extra yardage
- Nimble enough to navigate through small holes
- Good vision to find open holes
- Cuts off of blockers well
- Decent burst through the line, but it doesn’t set him apart
- Shows some short area quickness, but ability is limited
- Doesn’t have great top end speed; was able to sustain long runs in college but it won’t translate to the pro game
- Shows an understanding of his limitations as an athlete
- Not a polished stand up pass protector; shows effort
- Very solid cut blocker with good technique
- Impactful chip blocker, but sometimes interferes with linemen
- Doesn’t add value as a receiver
This article has multiple pages, examining different traits that Collins displays, and discussing whether or not those traits bode well for his transition to the NFL game. The first three pages deal with his running traits, while the fourth page covers his work in the passing game and the last includes projections for Collins in the NFL.
In order to watch Collins, I went to Draft Breakdown, which has five of his college games.
Overall, Collins isn’t a particularly diverse player. He has a really strong skillset for running the ball with power, and that skill meshed perfectly with the running game that Arkansas employed. Alex consistently showed good leg drive and great pad level, giving him the ability to generate push against defenders and consistently pick up extra yardage.
Additionally, Collins showed nuance as a runner between the tackles, which helped him maximize his potential yardage. While Collins will occasionally make a player miss, running over defenders plays more to his strengths. He has good burst as well, but it’s nothing to write home about. Finally, Collins’ top end speed is lacking and will not be an asset for him at the next level.
Physical attributes are obviously important to a runner’s success at the NFL level, but good vision and decision making allows those physically talented players to consistently gain yardage. When players don’t have many physical talents, they need to rely on good vision to obtain success. As a runner, Collins shows good vision and good decision making that compliments his skillset.
Collins clearly understands that he lacks dynamic athleticism, and the choices he makes reflect that. He understands where holes are going to occur, how to follow blockers, and how to fit through small creases. He also does a good job of varying his approach to holes to keep defenders off guard.
On the first play above, Collins has a big hole to run through. It doesn’t require special vision to hit that, but he does very well to increase the yardage he obtains by varying his approach. As he initially goes through the hole, he angles slightly to the left, away from a defender to help his blocker in front. Then, he tries to angle to the right past another defender. He doesn’t quite have the burst to get past that player, but falls forward for a very nice gain on 1st and 20.
There are times where Collins struggles to make a decision, and they occur when the defense has the run well defended at the point of attack. He realizes he doesn’t have the athleticism to get around defenders, so he’ll initially start in one direction and then change his mind, which causes him to dance. That’s what happens in the second play. At the next level, he will need to learn to accept the hand that was dealt to him and just try to make the most of it.
On the third play, Collins showed the ability to read the play correctly and find a gap to run through. He’s initially looking to run off tackle, but cuts it back up the middle and finishes off the run with great power.
On the fourth play, Collins does an excellent job of running behind his blocker and using that body to pick up about five extra yards.
As a very powerful runner, defenses often collapsed inside against Collins to stop runs up the middle. This opened up space on the edges of the defense, which Collins was able to exploit effectively. On the fifth and sixth plays, he initially presses to the inside, drawing defenders in, before bouncing outside and picking up nice gains. The sixth play is also nice because it shows some great second level vision.
At the next level, Collins profiles as a power runner useful in short yardage situations. In college, he consistently grinded out yardage in almost every situation. He was able to do this because of strong pad level and an unrelenting drive to move forward.
In the first play above, Collins attacks the line with good pad level. Then, when he gets defenders on top of him, he explodes his body upwards to fall forward for the first down. This is a showing of brute strength that will translate in short yardage situations in the NFL.
Good pad level is a constant aspect of Collins’ game. On the second play above, he rams into the defense with great pad level and bounces off a defender to continue forward.
On the third play, he shows unrelenting effort and great leg drive. He breaks off an arm tackle, gets spun, spins the other direction, and then drives through more leg tackles into the end zone.
On the fourth play, he shows off more brute force, ramming into his lineman and then ramming a defender to fall forward for a nice gain.