One thing you can say for the Patriots- they're never dull when it comes to personnel moves, and this week there were a couple of doozy's. Darrelle Revis- signs with the Jets; Brandon Browner- signs with the Saints, and POOF goes the Patriots man-to-man scheme that was a huge factor in New England winning their first Super Bowl in a decade. The Patriots have no choice, they must draft at least one cornerback. Question is, will they take him high or try to find a guy they can develop? With the success New England has had with first round picks, it would make sense for them to look at the cornerback position when they are on the board with their first round pick, and if Jalen Collins is available, it would be smart to draft the 6'2, 198 pound junior out of LSU.
Collins grew up and played his high school years in Olive Branch, Mississippi, attending Olive Branch High School. Collins was rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com and ESPN.com, and he received a four-star rating from Rivals.com. Collins was fortunate enough to be selected to the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Classic, which is typically reserved for the top players from each state, states that happen to be a hot-bed for high school recruits. In his senior year, Collins compiled 45 tackles, three interceptions, and two blocked field goals.
Les Miles and LSU made the decision to redshirt Collins his freshman year, allowing him to get bigger, stronger, faster, and to learn the system LSU uses. Collins played in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman, starting just one game. Collins accumulated 15 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles, six passes broken up and two interceptions; not bad for a redshirt freshman who only started one game.
As a sophomore, Collins still only started two of 13 games, but he was still able to produce. Collins finished the season with 15 solo tackles, seven assists, two passes broken up, and zero interceptions. 2014 was the year that Collins finally got more time and his production matched. Collins started seven of 13 games, making 28 solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles, three tackles for loss, 17 passes broken up, and one interception. Collins proved to the coaching staff that he could produce and would have started every game as a senior, but he decided to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft instead. Collins is considered a top-40 prospect, and his speed and size should push him up to the first round.
New England likes SEC players, as they have proven in the last five drafts. If Collins is still available when the Patriots are on the board at 32, there is a chance New England will take the gamble and draft him. Some will look at the lack of starts and assume he isn't first round caliber, but he was also playing for LSU, a team that habitually signs and plays the top defensive backs in the nation. Collins proved what he could do as a junior in his seven starts and he has a chance to be a very good NFL player.