Next up is redshirt junior cornerback Jalen Collins, a tall, rangy defensive back who had his ups and downs at LSU but finished on a strong note.
COLLINS IN HIGH SCHOOL
With superior size and range for his position, Collins stood out during his time at Olive Branch High School, a 6A program in Mississippi.
As a senior in 2010 Collins racked up 45 tackles, three interceptions and two blocked field goals. He was recognized for his play by the Mississippi Association of Coaches and the Clarion Ledger, both of which tabbed Collins First-Team All-State in Class 6A.
Scout designated Collins as a three-star prospect, the No. 7 cornerback in Mississippi and the 45th-ranked corner in the South.
Exiting high school Collins, listed at 6-foot-2 but actually an inch shorter, weighed in at 175 pounds, a solid 15 pounds less than where he’s at today.
Here are two different clips of Collins in his prep days, the first a highlight reel from his senior season of 2010 and the second an interview with Collins from the 2010 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic.
COLLINS IN COLLEGE
When Collins arrived in Baton Rouge for the 2011 season, LSU had an embarrassment of riches at the cornerback position, including future NFL Draft picks Mo Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Tharold Simon and Ron Brooks.
It made sense for him to redshirt, which he did, all the while tacking on muscle and weight to prepare for his first run of action in 2012.
Collins played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, starting once and earning Freshman All-SEC honors from the coaches due to his play down the stretch and his pair of interceptions.
2011: Redshirt Season at LSU
2012: 30 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBU
2013: 22 tackles, 2 PBU
2014: 38 tackles, 3 TFL, 17 PBU
He had a hard time keeping the mojo going into his redshirt sophomore season.
Collins, still a fixture on special teams coverage units, again played in all 13 games but started only two – the first two of the season – before losing his starting cornerback job. Younger players entering the program, particularly Rashard Robinson, had lapped him on the depth chart.
There wasn’t a ton of optimism surrounding Collins from the fans and media heading into the 2014 campaign, but Collins, with a little help from the oft-suspended Robinson, managed to turn things around.
He made seven starts as a redshirt junior, almost all of them when Robinson was out, but Collins in his own right excelled and took hold of his opportunity. His 17 pass breakups led the team, with several of them coming in his one-on-one matchup with Alabama’s Amari Cooper.
But perhaps Collins’ biggest area of improvement last fall was in his tackling. He became a very reliable tackler at corner, habitually breaking up quick passes and bubble screens near the line of scrimmage. Collins did this several times during his six-tackle performance against Wisconsin in the opener.
All-told, through the peaks and valleys of his career, Collins played in all 39 games possible but made only 10 starts.
Check out Scout’s recent interview with Collins following LSU Pro Day on March 27.
NEXT LEVEL PROJECTION
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Collins measured in at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds. Several weeks later, at LSU Pro Day, he was down to 199 pounds, despite being largely off his feet in between due to a foot injury.
Collins churned out two impressive workout numbers while at the Combine in Indianapolis, running a 4.48-second time in the 40-yard dash and posting a vertical jump of 36 inches. He did not bench press at the Combine or at LSU Pro Day.
Other measurables: Arm – 32.125 inches; Hand – 9.375 inches; Wingspan – 77.75 inches (6-5.75).
For a complete player evaluation click on the link below, which will take you to a write-up done by Dave-Te’ Thomas, a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League.