FLOWERY BRANCH – Before diving into the final draft stretch run, Falcons coach Dan Quinn shared some thoughts with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about six players he’s counting on to elevate their games in 2016.
He wants them to slide from being role players to becoming major contributors. The group includes defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley , cornerback Jalen Collins, running back Tevin Coleman, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, wide receiver Justin Hardy and free safety Robenson Therezie.
Today we’ll look at cornerback Jalen Collins, who was drafted it the second-round (42nd overall) of the 2015 draft out of LSU.
Collins played in all 16 games and made two starts. He finished with 12 tackles and fives special teams tackles. He started against Tennessee on Oct. 25 and San Francisco on Nov. 8.
Collins had offseason foot surgery in 2015 and missed most of the training sessions. He struggled at times in coverage, but will have an opportunity to compete for the starting right cornerback spot.
The Falcons like Collins’ size and are hoping that he becomes more physical re-routing receivers at the line of scrimmage. Collins has been working out in Flowery Branch, trying to get his footwork together.
“He has to play really discipline at the line of scrimmage,” Quinn said. “He didn’t get an offseason with us last year. He had a foot injury. The first real work that he got was when we got into training camp.”
The Falcons believe that Collins has a huge upside.
“For him, it’s the footwork because the speed is there,” Quinn said. “That’s the first part for playing corner. He’s got the length and the ball skills. Now, it's let’s get the footwork to make that (work).”
Collins must eliminate missteps that allow fleet NFL receivers to pull away and create separation.
“Even playing at the line of scrimmage, if he steps under and or if he doesn’t use the right footwork, then he’s not utilizing all of the length that he has to step and jam a guy,” Quinn said. “Or, he’s playing off and he’s a big long dude. Use your skills. A lot of that starts, when you are playing corner, with your feet.”
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