This past winter, Jalen Collins was given the same advice that millions of kids get every year: stay in school.
He didn’t listen. He dropped out.
And the cornerback is going to make a boatload of money — perhaps from the Dolphins — for doing so.
Collins, told by the NFL Draft Advisory Board that he would be best-served returning for his final year at LSU, instead bet on himself.
“I sent my [request] in for a grade to the advisory committee,” Collins said, referring to the independent group that projects an underclassman’s draft potential. “The grade was to return to school.”
Why didn’t he?
“I felt like this was the best opportunity for me to maximize on the draft,” Collins added. “I didn’t want to risk getting hurt coming back for another year.”
Smart move. Collins, who left LSU after his redshirt junior season, is projected to go in the first round of next week’s draft.
Is he a target for the Dolphins, who could use a long-term answer at the position, particularly considering Brent Grimes’ age and contract situation?
He’s certainly on their radar.
Collins is one of at least five cornerback prospects to visit Davie in recent weeks. And he’s one of three who might be appealing with the 14th pick (or later, should they trade back).
The others: Michigan State’s Trae Waynes (who most believe will be gone before the Dolphins go on the clock) and Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson (whose athletic measurables would rank in the 91st percentile of all NFL corners, according to the analytics website 3sigmaathlete.com).
Corner isn’t the most pressing need for the Dolphins, not after signing Brice McCain and Zack Bowman in free agency. But the team would have to at least consider it if an elite one was available at 14.
Jamar Taylor, a former second-round pick who has battled injuries in his first two years, is the early favorite to win the starting job opposite Grimes this fall. But Mike Tannenbaum’s history with the Jets suggests the Dolphins executive vice president of football operations prefers to stockpile corners.
That’s why Collins is intriguing. The team has had success with LSU players in the past; Collins regularly covered emerging Dolphins star Jarvis Landry during practice in Baton Rouge.
And Collins would give the Dolphins something they’ve lacked at the position: size. At 6-1, 203-pounds, he’s a true press corner.
Yet Collins, who ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, is far from a finished product — or without injury concerns.
He reportedly underwent foot surgery a month ago but should be cleared to practice in the coming weeks.
More concerning: Collins made just 10 starts in his college career (in part because he was buried on a loaded LSU defense). And the professional opinion on Collins is split. NFLDraftScout.com, a respected website, sees him as merely the ninth-best corner in the class.
Still, he allowed just 41 percent of the passes thrown at him to be completed last year — the fifth-best rate rate in college football, according to College Football Focus. Plus he looks the part.
“Rare combination of height, weight and speed,” draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote on NFL.com. “Has the foot quickness and twitch to trigger on demand. Uses soft, bouncy feet to change direction and drive instantly on throws. Has arm length to play from trail position and still knock passes away.”
In short, he’s probably a first-round talent — even if the advisory board saw it differently a few months back.
“I have no idea [what they were thinking],” Collins quipped.
The Dolphins might find it hard to argue with him.
Possible Dolphins targets