The rise of Baltimore Ravens’ running back, Alex Collins has been one of the best storylines in the NFL this season. A fifth round pick in 2016 by the Seattle Seahawks, Collins came out of nowhere and instantly became a fan favorite, thanks to his physical run style and exceptional footwork. Once CBS did a story on how Collins’ practices Irish dancing to improve his footwork, the entire NFL jumped on the bandwagon. But is Collins’ a flash in the pan like Justin Forsett, Or can he be the latest piece in a short, but dominant line of Ravens’ franchise backs.
So far this season, Collins has 825 yards rushing on 162 attempts. What’s even more impressive, is he did not see any action until Week Two and had only seen a limited role before becoming a starter midway through the season. With this kind of production, it seems a tad surprising Collins only has two 100+ yard games, (Wk 8 vs. Miami, Wk 14 at Pittsburgh.)
Collins’ biggest asset has to be his ability to extend the play. He currently has a YPC (yards per carry) of 5.1, which ranks fourth overall and third among running backs. This, is in large part to the Irish dance influenced footwork. This helps him stay patient enough for a hole to open up and make the proper cut into it. Of course, the offensive line is a big help for Collins’ achieving this statistic. With all the success Collins’ has had this season, it’s shocking he only has five touchdowns this season, all coming in the last four games.
But is Collins a one year wonder? Or is he the answer to the Ravens’ questions at running back. Luckily, the Ravens have some time to figure that out. Although he only signed a one year deal with the Ravens, Collins is an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) at the end of the season, meaning the Ravens only need to offer him a minimum contract for him to stay, which is most likely to happen.
I believe Collins can be the Ravens’ back of the future, with Kenneth Dixon taking the backup duty and Danny Woodhead continuing to be the scat back that he has always been. Although Buck Allen has been another pleasant surprise at running back, I believe the Ravens will trade him for a mid round draft pick this off-season. Allen’s value has never been higher and teams are sure to want him, especially since he’s under contract until 2019.
In a league that’s dominated by passing the ball, the run game is just as important. If the season were to end today, 11 of the 12 playoff teams would be ranked in the top 15 in rushing, with Pittsburgh being the surprising lone exception at 23rd. For those that were wondering, the Ravens are currently ranked ninth in rushing and are ranked higher than five current playoff teams.
I certainly hope Alex Collins can keep this type of performance up for more than just one season. Collins has been one of those players that I have not seen anybody talk bad about, and seems like the type of person that deserves success in the NFL. I believe he can be a consistent top 10 back for years to come.