It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers need some major retooling in their secondary, particularly at the cornerback spot. One name who’s rocketing up draft boards after an impressive showing at the combine is LSU’s Jalen Collins. Despite receiving a grade to stay in school for his senior season, the long-limbed corner entered the draft.
His ascension to first round status was solidified at last weekend’s scouting combine. He blazed a 4.48 in the 40, leaped 36 inches in the vertical and his three cone drill time of 6.77 was third-fastest among the defensive backs.
He does come with some question marks though. Over the course of three seasons, and 39 games, he started only 10 of them. As a redshirt freshman, he actually lost his job. However, he found a way to bounce back last season, and has parlayed his immense potential into basically a first round slotting.
“He’s a kind of guy you think you could develop into a No. 1 corner,” draft guru Mel Kiper said. “I think he could go middle of the first round, at worst somewhere between 20-30, but I really could see him jumping up to the middle of the first round now.”
Or basically, where Pittsburgh’s first round pick lies.
At a hair over 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, he fits the bill as far as what the team looks for in it’s corners, and that’s size and length. His press cover skills are good, and he shows a physicality versus the run too, a necessary trait to play corner in the Steel City. His size reminds me of the Ravens’ Jimmy Smith, and with a 78-inch wingspan, he could offer a rangy presence to a Steelers’ cornerback corps that is on the diminutive side. His leaping skills are ideal for defending 50/50 jump-balls, and coupled with his length, Will help him when matching up with the larger receivers in the game today, like A.J. Green or Calvin Johnson.
His benching at LSU raises concerns, and he’s not yet a finished product. However, with patience and the proper coaching, he may have the highest ceiling of any cornerback prospect in this year’s class.
“It was just kind of refocusing myself to the task at hand, which was getting back on the field,” he said. “Sticking to it, working hard every day, listening to the coach, being a team player, being selfless and working hard every day.”
He’s already well acquainted with the Steelers, as Ike Taylor is one of the players he’s been working out with at the Tom Shaw Performance Center in Orlando. FL.
“Just trying to take everything in, every little detail to help me get better,” he said.
Under the tutelage of cornerbacks coach Carnell Lake, the sky could be the limit for Collins.
“I want to take my game to another level, become a student of the game,” he said. “Put extra time in in the film room, learn everything I can from the other guys and work hard like I’ve been doing.”
He possesses a swagger too, something all cornerbacks should have out on an island.
“He’s not afraid at the line of scrimmage,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s not bailing out. He’s just sitting right there and saying “Bring it.”
That sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered to cure a leaky secondary.