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Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 18, RB Alex Collins

Running back Alex Collins is among the rookies who will be vying for significant roles during training camp. (AP)
LISTEN: Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 18, RB Alex Collins

Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued with ESPN’s Mike Sando as the guest and Alex Collins as the 18th-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Collins is embedded above. My thoughts are below.

Position: RB
Height/Weight: 5-10, 217
Experience: Rookie
Acquired: Fifth-round pick, 2016

Overview: Collins is one of three tailbacks Seattle drafted in April as the team re-stocked at that position with Marshawn Lynch retiring and Thomas Rawls coming off a serious injury. Whereas third-round pick C.J. Prosise and seventh-rounder Zac Brooks are both converted wide receivers, Collins’ build and style more closely resemble the Lynch/Rawls mold. “We talk about how we characterize our run game: big, physical, runners that run violent – he fits all of those,” Seahawks area scout Aaron Hineline said during the draft. No scouting report on Collins would be complete without a mention of this fun fact: one of his favorite off-field activities is Irish dancing. It’s no wonder then that according to Brock Huard, Collins’ best asset as a runner is his footwork.

The intrigue: Collins may have the most upside of the three tailbacks Seattle drafted. One thing that sets him apart from Prosise and Brooks – and from every other tailback on Seattle’s roster, for that matter – is a track record of consistent production and availability. Prosise only played running back for one season, and while it was a productive one, he missed three games with injuries. Brooks was never a starter in college. Inconsistency has defined Christine Michael’s career to date. Rawls topped 1,000 yards once in college, doing so as a senior after he switched schools and finally became a starter. And as good as he was as a rookie last year, Rawls went down in December with a broken ankle that ended his season. Collins, on the other hand, didn’t miss a game in his three seasons at Arkansas. He became only the third running back in SEC history to open his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, totaling 1,577 yards and 20 touchowns as a junior. Quarterback Russell Wilson noted earlier this offseason that Collins has shown excellent hands in practice, which reinforces the notion that his receiving skills are better than his college numbers would suggest. Collins caught 27 passes over his three seasons, but the Seahawks have said that was a function of Arkansas’ offense not featuring running backs in the passing game. Said Hineline: “He can catch the ball well out of the backfield … he can protect, he can run it. He’s a three-down player.”

2016 outlook: It depends largely on Rawls’ health. Rawls and the Seahawks have expressed confidence that he’ll be ready by the season opener, in which case he and presumably Prosise would be the top two tailbacks on Seattle’s roster. If the Seahawks keep three or four of them, that would leave Collins, Michael and Brooks battling for one or two spots. Prosise is in line to be Seattle’s third-down back, so if Collins makes the team, he could be Rawls’ primary backup and therefore the first in line if Rawls is unavailable or needs a breather – especially if Michael is the odd-man out. Collins’ ball-security will be a determining factor. He was credited with either 16 or 17 fumbles in college, which general manager John Schneider said was one of the reasons he fell to the fifth round. Coach Pete Carroll has zero tolerance for fumbles, so Collins will have to hang onto the ball if he’s going to make the team let alone make an impact as a rookie. Huard noted something working in Collins’ favor, which is that he comes from a complex rushing scheme at Arkansas and therefore should be able to handle anything the Seahawks throw at him.