Falcons Jalen Collins hopes to rebound from rookie disappointment

"I really didn't play to the best of my ability throughout the whole season," Jalen Collins said. "Definitely a little frustrated, but I know it's a process." Jason Getz/USA Today Sports

Sift through the list of second-round picks from the 2015 NFL draft and you'll find that 21 of 32 selections started five or more games this past season.

Jalen Collins wasn't one of them.

The Atlanta Falcons cornerback, considered a first-round talent who dropped due to marijuana issues in college, managed just two starts in 16 games. He had virtually no impact on defense with 12 tackles, no interceptions, and no passes defensed. He didn't see the field on defense in the last four games against Carolina (twice), Jacksonville, and New Orleans. His biggest impact was on special teams, where he was third on the team with five special teams tackles.

Collins, the 43rd overall pick, played 282 defensive snaps. The only second-rounders who played fewer snaps on defense were Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, who missed four games, and Patriots safety Jordan Richards, who played in 14 games. Both Gregory and Richards played 229 defensive snaps.

Collins realizes he was a disappointment.

"Of course you're frustrated," Collins said of his rookie campaign. "I felt I could have done better. I really didn't play to the best of my ability throughout the whole season. Definitely a little frustrated, but I know it's a process. I'm just going to grind this offseason."

Will the Falcons regret selecting Collins? We'll see. Some of the second-rounders selected after him who had pre-draft workouts with the Falcons included Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman, Chiefs center Mitch Morse, Ravens tight end Maxx Williams, Gregory, and Richards. Kendricks and Morse were named to the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team.

As for the 6-foot-1-inch, 203-pound Collins, his length and overall ability were supposed to earn him a spot opposite Pro Bowl alternate Desmond Trufant at cornerback ahead of Robert Alford. The Falcons tried such an alignment with Alford pushed inside as the nickel corner, but the experiment didn't work.

Collins obviously didn't play the ball well and got beat athletically. If anything else, at least he ended the season realizing his shortcomings.

"My focus is getting stronger, faster," Collins said. "Definitely my lateral quickness and focusing on my technique."

We'll see if Collins makes enough strides this offseason to make the coaches gain confidence in him. The Falcons seem likely to target a cornerback in free agency or the draft regardless.