Most long-term NFL fans will remember Allen Robinson’s unexpected breakout season in 2015. That year, Robinson posted an insane stat line of 80 receptions, 1400 yards, and 14 touchdowns, much to the delight of anyone lucky enough to have him on their fantasy teams. Additionally, he did all of this playing on a horrid Jaguars team with Blake Bortles as his starting quarterback.
Heading into 2022, Robinson’s best days are behind him. However, there is a young wide receiver on the Texans who has a real shot to breakout just like Robinson did in 2015: Nico Collins.
Making A Name At Michigan
Nico Collins had a solid colligate career as a Wolverine. In two seasons, he caught 78 passes for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. These numbers came despite the mediocre quarterback player of Shea Patterson.
Collins’ top attributes by far in college were his jump ball skills and ability as a red zone target. Standing six foot-four inches, it was easy for Collins to go up in the air and out muscle defensive backs in a fight for the football. By the time Collins’ pro day came around in 2021, comparisons were already being made to Allen Robinson, another Big 10 receiver who had excelled at these aspects back when he was drafted in 2014, and only continued to improve at the NFL level.
Despite Collins’ impressive physicality, his lack of downfield speed, and a year away from football due to Covid concerns, caused his draft stock to take a hit. Fortunately, the Texans selected Nico Collins near the end of the third round with the 89th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Quiet Year One Returns
In his first year, Nico Collins was a limited factor in the Texans’ offense. He never quite displayed his full potential or any of the traits Houston drafted him for. Instead of exciting, contested catches, most of Collins’ work came on slant routes or curls. And, big plays in the red zone were practically non existent, with Collins only scoring one touchdown on the year.
Nonetheless, flashes did occur. While a consistent effort was never made over the course of an entire game, Collins would have moments of greatness, at times breaking free over the middle or even making an insane grab off of a deflected pass. In all, Collins finished the year with close to 450 yards and over 30 receptions.
It’s also important to remember that Collins was stuck alternating between two very different quarterbacks, Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills, for most of his rookie season. In general, Collins was far from the only disappointment on a 4-13 Texans team last year.
Here, the comparison to Allen Robinson grows increasingly similar. Robinson’s rookie year was also forgettable to say the least. He was forced to contend with fellow rookie quarterback Blake Bortles on a Jaguars team that went 3-13. Robinson finished the 2014 season with just over 500 yards, and while the departure of some veterans during the offseason bolstered his position on the depth chart, expectations remained relatively low heading into his sophomore season.
A Future Texans Superstar?
Despite a shaky start to his career Nico Collins is set up for success in year two for multiple reasons. First off, the Texans brought in almost no competition this offseason at the receiver position. Aside from resigning veterans such as Chris Conley, no major moves were made in free agency to address concerns at WR. Even though Houston drafted John Metchie III out of Alabama, most of his work comes from the slot, posing no threat to Collins on the outside. Plus, Metchie is coming off of an ACL tear that will sideline him until around midseason.
Clearly, the Texans are putting a lot of faith into Nico Collins, and rightfully so. With just a little more usage, the flashes described above have the chance to explode into consistent production. This sentiment was echoed by Texans’ starting quarterback Davis Mills, who had this to say about Collins at minicamp:
His talent is off the chart, we need to get him the ball moreDavis Mills when asked about fellow 2nd year teammate, WR Nico Collins
The quote from Mills is more than just a friendly compliment from a teammate. It’s reassurance from the starting quarterback that Collins will be targeted more in his second season.
Speaking of Davis Mills, Collins will also have continuity at quarterback in year two, with Mills expected to remain the starter throughout the season. Mills is also looking to take a big jump in his sophomore year, and he and Collins will only benefit from having each other on the field. In fact, about 84% of Collins’ production in 2021 came when Mills was throwing him the ball.
Of course, replicating the all-pro season Allen Robinson had in 2015 is a tall order. But, Collins possesses the same skill-set as Robinson and is in a similar situation. As Brandin Cooks draws double teams from defenses and matchups with shutdown corners, expect Collins to put up big numbers on the boundary. With no real competition on the depth chart behind him, or anywhere else on the offense, the simple fact that Mills has no one else to throw the ball to, should allow Collins to thrive in 2022.
Do you think Nico Collins can replicate Allen Robinson’s infamous 2015 season? Leave a comment below!
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