When former Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins enters the red zone, he has a whole different mindset.
The 6-foot-4, 222-pound receiver developed into a strong red-zone threat in Ann Arbor, Mich., using his size and leaping ability to take advantage of opposing cornerbacks.
The 2021 NFL Draft prospect caught 78 passes for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns at Michigan from 2017-2019. (He opted out of the 2020 season.) Collins often rises above opponents for contested catches, utilizing his basketball background.
“I call the red zone the money zone, it’s where you get the money at,” Collins said on Glenn Clark Radio April 16. “I love the fade in the back of the end zone, those high balls that only I can get it. The quarterback throws it high and I go up there and high point [the ball] like I’m getting a rebound.”
Those situations offer Collins the opportunity to show off both his vertical and body control in the air, battling against cornerbacks. At his pro day, Collins’ vertical leap was measured at 37.5 inches, while his wingspan was measured at 78.5 inches, showcasing both his leaping ability and length.
Known as a big, physical receiver, Collins enjoys blocking for his running backs and fellow wide receivers. If he were drafted by the Ravens, blocking would need to become a key component of his repertoire.
About 55 percent of Baltimore’s plays in 2020 were runs, nearly 4 percentage points higher than the next closest team, the New England Patriots. The 2019 season was similar, as the Ravens also ran the ball more than any other team in the NFL that season.
“I love blocking, I love being physical, I love the contact of it,” Collins said. “So, just being a big receiver, you’ve got to love the physical part of it. You’ve got to play big. I love blocking, for sure. I wouldn’t mind doing that at all.”
An added benefit of playing with the Ravens would be catching passes from Lamar Jackson, one of the most electrifying offensive players in the NFL. The 2019 NFL MVP is known for his elusiveness in the open field and his ability to extend plays when it seemingly breaks down.
When a play looks like it’s over, it may only just be getting started. To Collins, Jackson’s ability to keep plays alive is one of the quarterback’s most appealing qualities.
“When the play breaks down, it’s not over because Lamar Jackson [is] going to run around the pocket, still looking downfield trying to make a play,” Collins said. “Whenever you think the play is over [and] you’re downfield — no, it’s just a scramble drill.”
However, there are also situations where Jackson will use that playmaking ability for explosive runs downfield. In those scenarios, Collins knows exactly what to do.
“I know Lamar Jackson is going to find you or he’s going to turn upfield and you turn around block for him and he’ll do the rest,” Collins said. “I feel like having him as your quarterback [is] a great feeling.”
With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, Collins isn’t regarded as one of the top wide receiver prospects in this year’s class. Yet, that doesn’t bother him. The young wideout remains focused on doing his job and playing the game he’s loved ever since childhood.
He’s considered the No. 13 wide receiver in this year’s class with a third-round projection, according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. Walter Football ranks Collins as the No. 22 wide receiver in this year’s class with a third-to fifth-round projection.
“I know what I’m capable of doing and I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Collins said. “I feel like I haven’t showed my potential yet.”
For more from Collins, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of U-M Photography