Jalen Collins was selected in the second round because the Falcons believed the rangy cornerback could be a real asset in Dan Quinn's defense. I'd have to agree with that assessment, but the real question is how soon that impact might come.
Collins is making his way back from injury, which puts him at a slight disadvantage as a rookie trying to steal a role away from veterans like Robert Alford and Phillip Adams. When you throw Dezmen Southward in the mix and consider rookie seventh rounder Akeem King, there's a ton of competition at cornerback, and Collins is going to need the time to get up to speed. It's the one reason I'm wary of projecting a big year from him, despite his obvious talent.
Simply put, Collins could very well mean the difference between a good Falcons secondary—Desmond Trufant and William Moore should at least ensure that level of competence—and a terrific one. Putting Trufant and an athletic scheme fit like Collins outside would let the Falcons kick Alford into the nickel, where his athleticism and ballhawking skills should play extremely well in Quinn's defense. That would leave the solid but unspectacular Phillip Adams, second-year conversion project Dezmen Southward and rookie Akeem King fighting for what scraps remain. For 2015, at least, that's the strongest possible configuration for this secondary.
That's why I'm hoping Collins can get back on the field and show he belongs there sooner rather than later. Even with a likely improved pass rush, this Falcons team is going to struggle to field a truly great defense this season. Collins is one of those pieces that they'll need to get anywhere close.
What's your expectation for Collins in 2015?