Alex Collins – RB – Arkansas
Rnd 5 Pick 171
Seattle put a lot of resources into the Offensive and Defensive Lines as well as Runningback in this draft, indicating a desire to get back to the brand of physical football that defined the two Super Bowl teams of 2013 and 2014. With that concept in mind, this pick made a ton of sense. Prior to running a slower than expected 4.59 40-yard time at the combine Alex Collins was widely considered one of the top 3-4 Runningbacks in the draft. To get a player who at one point was considered a 2nd – 3rd Round pick at the bottom of the 5th is a nice value. The fact he is a player who offers a quality skill set is what makes it a good pick.
Collins has a very solid build that is the type that is made to carry the load for an offense. He has very quick feet, instant acceleration, and the ability to weave and change direction at full speed. He’s great at chopping his feet and making cuts or letting his blocking set up before bursting through the hole. He spins, jukes, and shakes, but aside from being able to run through arms he hasn’t shown a consistent ability to break tackles (credited with only 5 broken tackles in his last 2 seasons). You can see on tape at :53 against Kansas State and at the 1:43 mark of this tape against a solid Missouri defense that he can make a play when the defense closes in, but often it is using his plus vision to avoid the tackle or take on just arms as opposed to physically running through a good tackle. What helps him is that he runs low to the ground with good bend and leg drive, always falling forward and using his good balance to get what yards are there. While so far he sounds like an ideal back, the fact is that he lacks the extra gear that most true top tier Runningbacks have. You can see with this run against LSU that he is capable of breaking one on a good Defense, but if you watch any of the other tapes on him you see a lot of him being chased down from behind. He was also never asked to do much in the passing game, and though he is strong and aggressive as a pass blocker his technique is seriously lacking.
When it comes to his college career, Collins stepped on campus with a lot of hype and lived up to it. A highly regarded recruit, he saw the field as a true Freshman in 2013 and while splitting time with Jonathan Williams he piled up 1,026 yards and 3 touchdowns on 190 carries. He split time with Williams again as a Sophomore in 2014, but had an increased role with 204 carries for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. Williams went down with an injury before the season in 2015, leaving Collins as the man in the Arkansas offense, and he responded. In a year where everyone in the stadium knew Collins was getting the ball on what felt like every play, he still managed 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns on 271 carries for a very respectable 5.8 yards per carry. He was rewarded with a 2nd Team All-SEC nod. It can be hard to come into a school with so much hype and to perform as Collins did, which says something about his focus and character.
If Seattle puts Collins in on run downs too much at this point he may get Russell Wilson killed. That being said, those are skills a lot of backs lack when coming into the NFL and something the team obviously thinks they can teach him. Watching him play, he has more shake than Robert Turbin but that feels like a good comparison as a floor for him, which is a useful piece to get in the 5th Round. However, if he can open his stride a bit more in the open field and break a few more tackles he could be more of a Chris Ivory type, and that is a player every team would love to have. He fits well in the Zone scheme Seattle uses, offering some redundancy with Thomas Rawls – which isn’t a bad thing when you consider the punishment that style of running takes.