Speed and big plays are the names of the game when it comes to playing successful offense in today’s NFL. If your favorite team is looking for a pass-catcher who excels at both, Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins is the man for the job.
Collins is an electrifying playmaker that possesses excellent size and ball skills. Collins routinely showcased the ability to stack defensive backs and win vertically on a consistent basis, even if Michigan didn’t always take full advantage of his big-play ability.
Collins recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his unique and exciting skill set, why he loves beating defenses deep, playing to his size, and what kind of impact he’ll have at the next level.
JM: You’ve had a lot of time to prepare and train for this moment. How are you finding the process so far?
NC: Everything is going well so far. I’m just trying to stay consistent throughout the process. I’m staying sharp. I’m enjoying every minute of it right now. I’m still working out and grinding.
JM: Now that you’ve had some time to really sit and reflect on it, how do you look back on your time at Michigan?
NC: I look back and feel like I was blessed with an opportunity to attend The University of Michigan. I’m thankful I went there. My time there was a little short. I was only there for three years but I loved every minute of it. I love the people at Michigan. I built so much trust and relationships with my teammates. I loved playing for the coaching staff. I’m really happy that I went to Michigan. I’ll forever be a Michigan man.
JM: That’s great. When I turn the tape on, I see a receiver that pairs vertical speed with excellent ball skills. That’s where we saw you consistently win on film. How did you develop those aspects of your game?
NC: It just happened over time. I have a lot of God-given ability. I’m able to go out there and high point the ball. I attack the ball in the air. I have that alpha mentality. It’s my ball. You have to be physical. You have to play big. I just built my mindset that way. When the ball is in the air, it’s mine. That’s my mindset every single time the ball’s in the air. When I’m running those deep vertical routes, that’s what’s going through my mind. I’ve already decided that I’m one that’s coming down with this ball right now.
JM: And it shows on tape. Do you have a favorite route to run?
NC: I like go routes and post routes. I like deep balls (laughs). I really do. I like a good fade in the end zone. To be honest with you, I like them all. But really, send me deep. That’s my go-to. I got you. I love the deep ball. Throw me a bomb!
JM: That’s what I thought you might say. You come in at 6-foot-4. You have terrific size. It jumps off the screen. What are some of the ways that you use that to your advantage?
NC: I like to play big. I know that my size advantage against cornerbacks is a big one. You said it, I’m 6-foot-4. Most corners can’t match my size. Most of them are somewhere between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-2 at most. They’re a little shorter than me. I love to get physical with them at the line of scrimmage.
I have to play big. There’s no reason for me to be 6-foot-4 and play small (laughs). Can you imagine that? Can you imagine if I went out there and played small? What a waste of size that would be. That doesn’t even sound right to me (laughs). I don’t even like joking about it. I use my size every chance I get. I’m trying to be physical every opportunity I get.
JM: That’s the way to play the game. Which NFL receivers did you admire growing up? Do you model your game after anybody in particular?
NC: I always watched Mike Evans growing up. I’ve been watching Mike Evans since he was at Texas A&M. I remember watching him play against Alabama with Johnny Manziel as his quarterback. I always watched him in college. I love watching him. I idolized him growing up. I try to model my game after him.
We’re very similar. We both like to play the game in a similar manner. He plays big. He attacks the ball. He plays physically. I definitely try to model my game after him. He’s one receiver that I really study and watch like that.
I also watch a lot of Michael Thomas. I love to watch DeAndre Hopkins as well. Those are my three go-to receivers.
JM: Those are three terrific choices. What’s your favorite part of playing the receiver position?
NC: Catching the ball and scoring touchdowns (laughs). I love making big plays for my team. I wanna be a playmaker. That’s what it’s all about. I love going out there and putting points on the board for my teammates.
JM: It’s all about being a playmaker. We’ve talked about your size, your ability to win deep, and how physical you are. What do you think is a strength of your game that doesn’t get talked about enough?
NC: I’m a physical, strong receiver. I like to play physical and high point the ball. I play big every chance I get. I just love to play big. I like bullying people on the field. I like to make them feel me. If you’re playing against me, you’re gonna feel me. Hey, I’m here. That’s what I’m all about. That’s one thing everybody needs to talk about when they reference my game. If you play receiver, you have to play big. Period.
JM: You make it well known. On the flip side, what are some areas of your game you hope to improve in?
NC: Everything. I would say that my overall game needs to get better. I’m still a work in progress. You’re never a finished product. I need to become a better receiver in every area.
I’m working on my route-running, especially at the top of the route. I need to create more separation. My releases at the line of scrimmage can be cleaned up a bit. As you can see, I’m working on my overall game. I’m working on my hand combats. Things like that. There are so many things I can do to become a better player. That’s what I‘m working on right now. I want to produce in a major way when I hit the field.
JM: That’s great. We’ve reached a point in the process where you’re meeting with teams virtually. How is that going for you, and which teams have you met with so far?
NC: The process is going well. It’s an exciting time for me. It’s a dream come true. Teams I’ve been thinking and dreaming about playing for my entire life are hitting me up. It’s crazy. It really is a dream come true for me. I’ve really enjoyed speaking with the teams. I hope they continue to roll through and hit me up (laughs). I’m enjoying it so much. I’m taking advantage of it.
As far as the teams I’ve spoken with, there’s been a couple of them. I have to keep the names under wraps. I met with every team at the Senior Bowl as well. There’s a solid handful of teams showing interest in me.
JM: There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. If you could catch a pass from any quarterback, who would you choose and why?
NC: That’s a good, hard question. There are so many great quarterbacks in the league right now. I would still say Tom Brady, though. That’s the GOAT right there. He’s the best QB of all time. There’s a reason he has so many Super Bowls. His resume speaks for itself.
He went to Michigan of course (laughs). He’s a Michigan man. I love the way he plays the QB position. He’s a real leader. You can see how hard his teammates play for him. He always makes plays for his team. That’s one guy I would love to catch touchdown passes from. I hope I can do that before he retires (laughs).
JM: I’ve appreciated your time today. This has been terrific. Of all the interviews I’ve ever done, you’re one of the happiest, fun-loving guys I’ve ever spoken with. You’re going to be a great teammate and player at the next level. In closing, what kind of impact is Nico Collins going to make at the next level?
NC: I appreciate you saying that. I appreciate your time. This has been an honor for me.
I’m gonna make a huge impact. I’m coming in with the right mindset. I wanna learn from the vets. I wanna be somebody that picks up information and brings something to the table. I’m gonna follow vets around and pick their brains. I’m gonna hang around the guys that have been here before. I wanna be coached. I wanna earn the trust of my teammates.
You’re gonna get somebody that’s dedicated and dependable. I’m willing to do anything for the team. I’m gonna lay it all on the line.