(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held April 30-May 2, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is LSU cornerback Jalen Collins).
College: Louisiana State
Honors: Earned Freshman All-SEC status in 2012 after posting 30 tackles and two interceptions as a backup corner.
Key stat: Collins only started 10 games during his three-year stint at LSU, with seven of those coming in 2014. Despite that, he led the Tigers' defense in pass breakups last year with nine. For his career he broke up a total of 28 passes.
Where He's Projected: Collins' resume isn't as strong as some of the other corners in this draft class, such as Marcus Peters, Kevin Johnson or Byron Jones. His pure, raw athleticism is enough to intrigue any team, though, as he checks in at 6-1, 203 pounds, and he ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine. Because of that, his draft projection ranges a good bit – from the top 20 to the tail end of the second round.
How He Helps the Cowboys: It's been established that the Cowboys need corners, and if they were to draft Collins, he'd immediately be the biggest guy at the position. The Cowboys could use his physical presence on the outside, but he also has experience playing in the slot. His 90 career tackles at LSU also demonstrate his willingness to help defend the run.
Scout's Take: Has the ability to play on both sides of the field and out of the slot. His best trait is his ability to run. Outstanding catchup speed and burst. Can play on and off, but I thought he was a much better player when he was up tight and getting his hands on the receiver. Has the length to hold his man along the line and control. When he was off, especially against the slant, would have like to have seen him react better and play with that burst. Would not call him the most sound technique player overall – more of an athlete. When he wants to mirror his man, you see a really good corner. You would draft him in the first round if you just studied his game tape against Amari Cooper of Alabama – he was able to carry him all over the field. His size and athletic ability really helps him when he has to face bigger receivers. Was one of the few corners in this draft that was consistent when it came to defending routes across the field. Understands how to play the ball with his off hand. Is not afraid to tackle and when he gets in position to do so, he can finish the job. Will take some strange angles to the ball when tackling. If there is a glaring area of concern it would be his lack of ball skills. There were plenty of snaps on tape when he had a chance for an interception and the ball would clang right off his hands. Needs to develop more consistency in his game from a down-to-down aspect. Can be frustrating to study because of how up-and-down he plays. Has been an off-and-on during his career at LSU and that is a concern when trying to get a handle on what type of NFL player he might become. You could get the player that covers Cooper well, or the one that allowed a touchdown in the Ole Miss game on a wheel route where he showed no awareness at all. Boom-or-Bust type of potential. – Bryan Broaddus