Cornerback Jalen Collins has become one of the more polarizing prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. With the start of the draft just five days away (finally!), Collins is likely to hear his name called either on Thursday towards the end of round one or on Friday during rounds two or three. However, where he ends up next week is a question that is very much up for debate.
Supporters of Collins seem to be primarily focused on his potential and long-term prospects. This is primarily because Collins has all they physical tools that teams would look for in a corner. He stands 6 feet and 1-1/2 inches tall, weights 203 pounds, and ran his 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds at the Scouting Combine despite having a minor foot issue.
In fact, Collins has been a popular mock draft pick for the Green Bay Packers, with ESPN's Mel Kiper and SB Nation's Dan Kadar both frequently projecting him to the Packers at #30 overall.
However, Collins has his share of detractors, who do not see him as a first-round talent for a variety of reasons. First, he started just ten games in his three-year career with the LSU Tigers, including seven of LSU's thirteen games in 2014. His tape is inconsistent as well, as his technique needs significant improvement. Overall, he is a far less-polished player than the top corners like Marcus Peters or Trae Waynes, and he will need significant development with his position coach at the next level to reach his lofty potential.
There is now another major question mark about Collins that has come to light (at least publicly), as NFL Network's Albert Breer reports:
1) Changing attitudes towards drugs? LSU CB Jalen Collins is a test case. Had multiple failed tests in college, per sources with 4 teams.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 24, 2015
Teams obviously know about this, as they were the ones who reported this to Breer, and Ted Thompson assuredly has done his homework on Collins. However, it seems logical that the failed drug tests would result in teams slotting him lower on their draft boards than they would have otherwise.
At the Scouting Combine, these failed tests were not public knowledge, but Collins likely was fielding questions about them from teams. When asked by the media about dealing with adversity, Collins made some comments that, in retrospect, suggest that these tests were on his mind:
One of the most recent situations was growing up in college. Becoming a mature person, conducting myself on and off the field. Trying to do things the right way, be a man, because I was out there on my own.
Collins also said at the Scouting Combine that the NFL Advisory Committee recommended that he return to school, a result which is equivalent to suggesting that he would likely be drafted in the third round or later.
Bill Huber of Packer Report confirms that at least some teams are not nearly as high on Collins as Kiper and Kadar:
Now I know why I had only one of seven scouts say they'd consider jalen Collins as late first or early second with @AlbertBreer report— Packer Report (@PackerReport) April 25, 2015
Whether those scouts were rating Collins solely based on talent or on the full package is hard to say, but it's clear that many teams are wary of drafting Collins early.
Count Acme Packing Company is among those who are more skeptical of the Tigers corner as well. Instead of projecting him to land with the Packers with the 30th overall pick, our Mock Draft has him landing in Green Bay with the 62nd selection, near the end of round two.
Now, Collins will most certainly be drafted at some point, and will have an opportunity to both prove that any issues with drugs are behind him and develop into a starting-caliber NFL cornerback. It is also entirely possible that his opportunity does indeed come in Green and Gold.
At this point, however, we feel that it would be a surprise to see Collins' name called on Thursday night, and that he is much more likely to go off the board later on the second day of the draft.