Nico Collins And Ambry Thomas Should Follow Jalen Mayfield's Lead
Normally I'm all for guys leaving school early and getting their paid lives started doing something they love in the NFL. Within the past month or two, we've seen big time players from various schools making the decision to pack it in and get ready for their professional careers. At Michigan, Jalen Mayfield, Ambry Thomas and Nico Collins all decided to go that route. But that was before the Big Ten voted to start the season on October 24.
In most cases, if a guy leaves early, he's about to make life-changing money as a high draft pick and he's doing so quicker than he would be able to if he exhausted his collegiate eligibility. In 2020, however, things are different. With the Big Ten season back on the table, Collins, Mayfield and Thomas were essentially going to miss the year just to miss it. The season would still wrap up in a normal timeframe giving them ample time to prepare for the combine and NFL Draft.
Mayfield saw the light. Earlier today, we learned that the redshirt sophomore lineman had opted back in and would be a part of Michigan's 2020 roster. It's a little tougher for Collins and Thomas, who apparently took money from agents already, but it's still doable.
As I said earlier, I'm all for guys going pro and getting paid, but in this case, they might as well come back and play, because they could improve their draft stock and have one more go-round with their teammates, friends and coaches. Whether they return to Michigan or not, they're not doing the combine or entering the draft until the spring. So why not come back and play?
Both Collins and Thomas could use another year of film.
Collins certainly looks the part at 6-4, 215, but there are some questions about his ability to separate and his long speed. Earlier this year, Josh Gattis posted Collins' 40-yard dash time of 4.46, but that was hand-timed and inside Glick Fieldhouse. Pro scouts would definitely like to see that speed on the field and get a feel for it themselves. Another year in the winged helmet could be great for the standalone No. 1 receiver in the No. 1 jersey. Collins seems like a can't-miss prospect, but his career high for catches in a season is just 38. He just hasn't shown out like a bonafide NFL receiver should. As a senior, with Joe Milton, he could do that.
Thomas has proven to be a true No. 1 corner, but he was poised for his best year yet as a Wolverine. He started the year off last year at less than 100% after dealing with colitis. Even though he didn't miss any action, he wasn't at his best weight and was certainly affected by the illness. If he returned in 2020, at a better playing weight and as a senior leader, he could really elevate his status as a player and as a person. He's a tireless worker and a natural leader, and both would show up on the field if he were to come back. Scouts notice stuff like that. He's made 54 tackles and picked off four passes over the course of his career. Those numbers aren't exactly eye popping, and he might be able to approach them in one season even though it's just a nine-game slate.
You always hear former athletes at all levels say things like, "I wish I had one more year with my brothers." Collins, Mayfield and Thomas have the rare opportunity to get another year back after they though it had been ripped away from them. Mayfield has already made the decision to come back for another shot at beating Ohio State and winning a Big Ten title, and I think Collins and Thomas should too. I'm not even saying this as a Michigan fan or as someone who covers the team, which is a better experience when that team is successful.
It just make sense. With the season back on, they really don't gain anything by opting out, but they certainly lose a lot. That's really what it comes down to. They might get a little advance from an agent, but it's likely not anything significant, and working out while playing a season is arguably a better approach than just working out and training without actually playing football.
Gattis, other Michigan players and obviously a ton of fans are tweeting at Collins and Thomas incessantly in an effort to convince them to come back. They're hearing it from all angles at this point but there's really only one angle in my eyes...
One more ride.