As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2020 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Aviante Collins/OL TCU – 6’4 292
Is Aviante Collins a guard or tackle? By this summer, hopefully we get our answer. What we do know is that Collins is one of the most athletic linemen to come out of his draft class, running a blistering 4.81 40 at the 2017 NFL Combine. Here’s what it looks like when a 295 pound linemen is outrunning quarterbacks. Granted slow ones but still – sign of the times we’re living in.
But his great workout wasn’t enough to get him drafted. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a UDFA. He stuck with the team, making three appearances and logging 28 offensive snaps in the regular season finale against the Chicago Bears. #76 the left tackle in the clip below, he executes a great reach block to cutoff the three-tech from knifing into the backfield.
Not bad for a rookie.
After missing most of 2018 due to an elbow injury, he surfaced to the active roster in 2019. He spent the first half of the season on the practice squad but was called up in mid-November. He appeared in two games, making his first NFL start. Just like in 2017, it came in Week 17 against the Chicago Bears. Aviante Collins is to the Bears what BJ Finney was to the Chiefs.
2020 was a similar story. Carried through the offseason, waived at roster cutdowns, signed to the practice squad, promoted mid-year. But that was just a one-week call-up under the new practice squad rules and he was shuttled back down as quickly as he came up. After visiting the team in January, the Steelers inked him to a futures deal February 2nd.
Though undersized, he’s been able to stick at tackle for his NFL career. So until I see otherwise, I assume he’ll be playing there in Pittsburgh. The team website lists him as a tackle, though we know that means very little. The Steelers may lose several names at tackle here: Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Zach Banner, and Jerald Hawkins are slated to hit free agency. Not all of those guys will leave, Banner is coming back, but that could give Collins a chance to stick on the 53 as the 8th/9th offensive linemen.