Alex Collins left Fayetteville and is heading to Seattle as a 5th round draft pick of the Seahawks. He was #171 overall.
The Seahawks will have a new backfield with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. One of Collins' last runs as a Razorback reminded many of Lynch:
Collins was part of a tandem of backs at Arkansas in his first two seasons, but was forced into a team leader role in 2015 after Jonathan Williams went down with an injury. No one knew how Collins would respond, but he absolutely thrived. Collins' 2015 season was the best season by any Arkansas running back ever - not named McFadden, of course.
He's Arkansas' career leader all time in rushing touchdowns, 2nd all time to McFadden in rushing yards, and tied McFadden's record with 10 100-yard games last fall. Hog fans may have actually undervalued him last year.
Of course we hope Alex goes on to have a terrific career in the NFL and it wouldn't surprise us at all to see it.
Here's an excerpt from the NFL Draft profile we ran earlier this week:
The Razorbacks have a rich and storied running back tradition, and Collins added to the lore and legend in Fayetteville by posting three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, one of only three running backs in SEC history to do so.
In 2015, Collins increased his total carries from 204 to 271, and used the extra carries to score 20 TDs and amass 1,577 yards. With the injuries to Williams and the rest of the Arkansas running back corps, Collins became the one constant. While Collins had been a consistently good back in 2013-2014, 2015 was his breakout season. Collins went over 100 yards 10 times and had standout moments including his part of the epic 4th-and-25 play against Ole Miss, and was virtually unstoppable in the Hogs bowl victory against Kansas State, scoring three rushing touchdowns on 187 yards on his way to being named MVP of the Liberty Bowl. If you're wondering how he wasn't first team All-SEC, it's only because he plays in the same conference as Alabama's Derrick Henry and LSU's Leonard Fournette.
NFL – 2016 and Beyond
Collins has a highlight real of making the first defender miss in the backfield, setting up a linebacker with a quick first step, and then diving forward for 5 yards. From his first game, he's had moves, vision, and patience that you rarely see in a college freshman, and seems to have gotten just a bit quicker and stronger throughout his three years. Collins can make you look silly, but more often than not, Collins just looks good. His biggest strengths really lie in his quick feet, vision, and well-built frame.
If you want to talk negatives, you can say that Collins hasn't shown a lot of pass catching ability, lost nine of 17 career fumbles, and doesn't have the best pass blocking form. Though if I were to try and spin those, you can't blame the running back when the offense isn't using him as a passing weapon – that's on the head coach and the OC. He has improved his fumble issues, only losing two of five fumbles in 2015. Being on a team that largely called for run plays and play action most of his career, pass blocking hasn't been something that's been a particularly needed skill for Collins, luckily enough, but it's a pretty teachable skill, and most running backs don't come into the NFL as great pass blockers from college.
With the benefit of great blockers and a line that's been hashed and rehashed as the biggest offensive line in college football, there will be questions about Collins as a product of a system. He spent his first two years largely running behind a fullback and didn't spend much time as a single back until 2015, but he's been in a pro-style offense all three years. His stats are largely amassed against the best conference in the country, which produces many of the defensive line players he will be running through at the next level. The virtue of sharing carries through his first two seasons has kept Collins relatively free of injuries, and no injury kept him out of any games. If he's a product of a system, it's obviously a good one.
It's a time to celebrate his Arkansas career, and remember the good times. I wish he and his parents were going to be in the NFL draft green room so that Collin's mother could grab the jersey or hat before Collins could take his picture at the podium, but alas, Collins will probably be drafted by a team that his mother will approve of (she's very glad he ended up at Arkansas now by the way) with little or no drama to begin what will hopefully be a long and happy career.