Michigan Football: Nico Collins can be elite with a consistent quarterback

(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

Michigan football and its fans expect big things from Nico Collins in 2020, expect a breakout year from the senior.

It came as a bit of a surprise when Michigan football receiver Nico Collins did not declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, instead deciding to play out his senior season with the Wolverines.  He will be the focal point of the passing game for Michigan this season.

Collins stands a large 6-foot-4 at about 225-pounds.  He’s the definition of an outside NFL receiver.  Success hasn’t been easy to come by for Collins with the Wolverines, but much of that can be due to erratic quarterback play from Shea Patterson over the last two seasons.

Patterson started to play more consistently as the year grew old last season but never turned into the quarterback head coach Jim Harbaugh thought he was getting when he lured the former Ole Miss product to Michigan as a transfer.

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Harbaugh has been widely criticized for his lack of quarterback development and rightfully so.  Jim’s return to Michigan came with plenty of hype, but we’ve yet to see the results.  His two quarterbacks to note Jake Rudock and Patterson were both transfer students, both left us wishing for more.  Rudock likely won’t be rostered in 2020 after having a cup of coffee with the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.  Patterson was undrafted and then remained unsigned even after NFL teams gobbled up undrafted free agents.

The lack of quarterback efficiency without a doubt has hurt the performance of the Michigan football receivers.  Michigan football was able to deploy Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Ronnie Bell, and Tarik Black.  It’s an exceptionally talented group of pass-catchers that really underperformed. Black recently transferred to the Texas Longhorns, Peoples-Jones turned pro, but whoever wins the starting quarterback job in 2020 for the Wolverines will have plenty of playmaking receivers to get the football too.

Bell led all Wolverines with 758 yards on 48 receptions; next was Collins, who corralled 37 balls totaling a whopping 729 yards and a team-leading seven touchdown grabs. Collins explosive 19.7 yards per reception proves his dynamic abilities and someone that needs to be targeted more often.  Peoples-Jones who we saw free-fall in the NFL Draft only produced 438 yards on 34 catches but scored six touchdowns.

Michigan must develop a quarterback right away if Collins hopes to produce a 1000-yard season and double-digit touchdowns this season.  He’s that type of athlete, and his future hinges on better quarterback play in 2020.

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At this point, it appears there will be a vigorous quarterback competition between Dylan McCaffery and Joe Milton, but don’t sleep on freshman Cade McNamara either.