Just over a year ago, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan made a bold move in taking a gamble on a talented yet troubled player in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and the move looks to have paid off in a big way thus far. Now we ask, will he take another gamble on the opposite side of the ball?
The Atlanta Falcons yesterday cut ties with cornerback Jalen Collins who was forced to sit out the season’s first ten games for his second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy in as many years.
In just his third pro season, the former second-round draft pick has apparently become too big of a headache for the Falcons to deal with. Atlanta was the first team to take a gamble on Collins who reportedly failed multiple drug tests as a member of the LSU tigers where he played alongside current Jets defensive backs Jamal Adams and Rashard Robinson.
If the Jets feel a change of scenery and a few familiar faces will help keep Collins focused on football, his signing could be a coup. Pro Football Focus had this to say about Collins after naming him one of the league’s most improved second-year players:
With star cornerback Desmond Trufant going down injured halfway through the 2016 season, it was left to Collins to step up as a starter for the Falcons’ playoff run. Despite not playing until Week 9, Collins finished the season ranked as the 25th CB in PFF grading. His 81.6 grade dramatically eclipsed an ugly rookie mark of 44.2, thanks to several notable big plays for the Falcons both down the stretch and throughout their playoff push. His nine pass breakups from Week 9 onwards were tied for second-most among all CBs, adding two interceptions into the mix, too. His forced fumble on Packers FB Aaron Ripkowski in the playoffs was one of the defining moments of the NFC Championship game.
According to NFL.com, one talent elevator also had high praise for Collins in saying he had a chance to be the top cornerback in his class.
“They all have holes, but Collins is what you are looking for in an NFL cornerback with his length and speed. He isn’t there yet, but he has the traits and ability to become a high-end starter and maybe the best cornerback from this draft.” — NFC director of personnel
Whether the Jets place a claim on Collins or they make a move if he clears waivers, they could soon have four former LSU tigers in their defensive backfield as Collins would be joining Adams and Robsinson along with veteran cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Given the lack of depth at the position and his low price tag, passing on Collins wouldn’t be an easy thing for Maccagnan to do. He took a shot with Seferian-Jenkins, and he’d be crazy not to take one here too.