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Fifth-round pick Alex Collins fits Seahawks’ RB mold

Alex Collins will give the Seahawks extra tailback depth as Thomas Rawls works back from injury. (AP)

RENTON – Seahawks general manager John Schneider said the depth at running back in this year’s draft was so strong that some who didn’t get chosen will still make impacts in 2016.

That would help explain why one of the most productive players among that group, Alex Collins from Arkansas, was still available in the fifth round, where the Seahawks chose him at No. 171.

Collins comes from a run-first offense at Arkansas and put up monster numbers during his three seasons, the best of which came last year when he rushed for 1,577 yards (5.8 average) and 20 touchdowns. He became only the third running back in the history of the Southeastern Conference to open his career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons, joining Darren McFadden and Herschel Walker, and he did so despite sharing carries for his first two years. His 3,703 career rushing yards are second most in school history behind McFadden.

Collins is listed at 5 foot 11 and 215 pounds.

“We talk about how we characterize our run game, big, physical, runners that run violent – he fits all of those,” said Aaron Hineline, a Seahawks area scout.

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One knock on Collins: His propensity to fumble, something Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has no tolerance for. Collins was credited with either 16 or 17 fumbles in college. He said it was mostly an issue earlier in his career and that he has improved his ball security since.

“It’s definitely something that I put on myself to put extra work in to get better at,” he said. “Over my career, that’s something I really harped down on, and really decreased. The number is so high because of my freshman year, but I did a really good job of improving that and keeping the ball in my hands.”

Carroll said Seattle’s coaches can help, too.

“He won’t play unless he hangs onto the football. Nobody will. It’s a big deal to us but yet we think we can fix that.”

As productive as he was as a runner in college, Collins only caught 27 passes over three seasons. Hineline said that was a reflection of Arkansas’ offense and not of any limitations in Collins’ receiving skills.

“He can catch the ball well out of the backfield, like I said, he can protect, he can run it,” Hineline said. “He’s a three-down player.”

Collins is from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He played lacrosse for two seasons in high school, he likes country music and he recently got into Irish dancing. As detailed in a recent piece on the MMQB.com, he’s gotten so into it that he’s adopted an alias, Mitchell Findley, which was inspired by Michael Flatley from “Lord of the Dance.”

“My little sister, she does Irish dance,” he said, referring to the daughter of his high-school football coach. “She kind of challenged me to get into it. I thought, why not? I have some time on my hands and I can give it a go. She got me into it and I tried it out and I ended up really liking it.”

Can that help him on the field or is it just for fun?

“It’s both,” he said. “I’m always on my toes and my lower body, my calf muscles and what not. It’s a lot of fun working with them and learning something new, especially since I didn’t think I could do it.”

Hineline has seen video of Collins dancing.

“Hey, he’s got great feet. So if that’s what it takes, he’s doing something right,” Hineline said.