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Where does Jalen Collins fit on the 2016 Falcons?

It depends.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have high hopes for Jalen Collins, even after a lackluster rookie season. Considering he's got the talent and length Atlanta's looking for at cornerback, and considering he was starting from behind with an injury, his first year in the NFL certainly doesn't doom him.

That said, I'm not sure what the Falcons are going to do with him just yet. If they don't sign a free agent they've been linked to, like dynamic nickel corner Brandon Boykin, his path to playing time is a lot more straightforward. His role will simply depend on how much he's improved, as he'd presumably kick Robert Alford or maybe Desmond Trufant inside on nickel packages (Alford much more frequently than Trufant, I'd anticipate) and be on the sideline when only two cornerbacks are required. That would get him valuable playing time, and serve as his audition for a starting job in 2017, when one of Trufant or Alford could be gone. Because I didn't make this clear on the first pass, please note that I think it's much more likely that the team allows Alford to walk than Trufant, and I hope against hope they'll retain both.

If the Falcons do sign a competent nickel cornerback, though, things get a little hairier for Collins, who likely won't pull that many snaps ahead of Trufant and Alford. There will be sets where Alford will still man the inside and Collins the outside, yes, but they'll be fewer and farther between, and Collins will have less of a chance to show his improvement. After that aforementioned lousy rookie year, he's going to want (and arguably need) the opportunity to prove he belongs.

Ultimately, I'll go on record saying that I believe Collins will be fine. He may not be a great cornerback in his second year, but I expect him to be a competent one, and to get enough snaps for the coaching staff to get a long, hard look at him. He will be a huge part of this team's future at cornerback, after all.

What do you think Collins' role will be?