FAB 3. Bucs Should Investigate RB Collins
Instead of burning a draft pick on a trade for another running back, the Bucs might be wise to investigate the situation regarding former Baltimore runner Alex Collins, who was the team’s leading rusher in 2017 with nearly 1,000 yards. Collins was arrested on March 1 on marijuana possession and firearms possession charges following a car crash, and subsequently released by the Ravens.
Here are details from Collins’ arrest from a report on NFL.com.
According to a Baltimore County police report, officers responded to a call for a car crash on Dolfield Road at 6:48 a.m. local time. The location was roughly a mile away from the Ravens’ facility. During the course of their crash investigation, officers detected the odor of marijuana inside the vehicle, and an ensuing probable-cause search revealed a large glass jar containing approximately five ounces of marijuana. A handgun was also recovered from the vehicle. Collins was placed under arrest.
According to Collins in the report, he was on his way to drop a friend off at home when he lost control of his vehicle on the snow-covered road, sliding off the pavement and into a tree. Collins called for a tow truck but fell asleep in the vehicle while the friend chose to walk the rest of the way home. Neither were injured in the crash.
Collins was released on a $7,500 posted bond just after midnight late Friday night, and formally charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana in excess of 10 grams and possession of a handgun in vehicle.
Collins has yet to sign with an NFL team, and likely faces a league suspension of some kind due to his arrest once his legal matter is resolved, but to a running back-needy team like Tampa Bay, he might be worth investigating and taking a chance on. I liked him coming out of Arkansas in the 2016 draft, following three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Razorbacks, including a 1,577-yard, 20-touchdown campaign as a junior.
I was at the 2015 Liberty Bowl where I saw Collins run roughshod over my Kansas State Wildcats for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries (8.0 avg.) in his final game for the Razorbacks. That was one of 10 100-yard rushing games Collins had that season.
Seattle drafted the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Collins in the fifth round in 2016 where he rushed for 125 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries as a rookie, along with 11 catches for 84 yards (7.6 avg.). The Ravens signed Collins to their practice squad after his release by the Seahawks on September 5, 2017.
In his first year with Baltimore, Collins rushed for 973 yards and six touchdowns on 212 carries (4.6 avg.) with six touchdowns, along with 23 catches for 187 yards (8.1 avg). Last year, Collins, a native of Plantation, Fla., rushed for 411 yards and seven scores on 114 carries (3.6 avg.), in addition to catching 15 passes for 105 yards (7.0 avg.) and one TD despite suffering a foot injury in October that eventually led him to be placed on injured reserve on December 1.
Ravens undrafted free agent rookie Gus Edwards emerged as the starter in early November, rushing for 718 yards and four touchdowns on 137 carries (5.2 avg.). Edwards took over for Collins down the stretch and posted three 100-yard games, including 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries (5.5 avg.) against Tampa Bay in a 20-12 win on December 16.
The Ravens also have a capable back in Kenneth Dixon, who rushed for 333 yards and two scores on 60 carries (5.6 avg.), which made Collins expendable. Shortly after Collins’ release, Baltimore signed veteran Mark Ingram II and also selected running back Justice Hill in the 2019 NFL Draft.
If Collins’ foot injury has healed and he’s learned a lesson and changed his ways from his March arrest, he could be a quality find for the Bucs if he can recapture his 2017 form. Collins had seven games with 70 yards or more in 2017, including 113 yards with two receptions for 30 yards in a 40-0 win against Miami and 120 yards and one touchdown with two catches for 46 yards in a 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh.
While taking a look at Collins’ highlights, watch the trench battle between Bucs center Ryan Jensen, who played for the Ravens at the time, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who played for the Dolphins.
The Bucs could use another experienced chain-moving, all-purpose back to contend for a roster spot. Tampa Bay’s front office could ask Jensen and Breshad Perriman, who both played with Collins in Baltimore, about his character to see if he’s worth pursuing or not.
What I like about Collins when healthy is his footwork and his slashing running style. He has a good, elusive shake that allows him to slip tackles, and good hands in the passing game.
Collins also has a nose for the end zone, which is important as the Bucs strive to improve their red zone scoring production this season. Collins has 14 career rushing touchdowns and one receiving TD in 36 games over three years, while Tampa Bay’s most accomplished scoring back is veteran Andre Ellington, who has 10 career rushing TDs and three receiving TDs in 65 games over six years in the league.
Starting running back Peyton Barber has totaled nine rushing TDs in 47 games over three years, including a career-high five last year, in addition to one receiving score. Ronald Jones II has just one rushing TD.