As if the Giants didn't have enough defensive tackles on the depth chart, what with second-rounder Linval Joseph to go along with incumbents Chris Canty, Barry Cofield, Jay Alford, and Rocky Bernard, here's an undrafted free agent that could well wedge himself into the competition.
Nate Collins of Virginia didn't become a fulltime starter until his senior year. But once he did, he nearly matched his career totals by finishing second on the Cavaliers with 77 tackles, a team-high 10 1/1 tackles for loss, and six sacks to earn first-team All-ACC honors. He also returned his first career interception for a touchdown. He had a season-high 16 tackles against Georgia Tech.
When you take the season total and season-high tackle totals, you realize this guy is something pretty special. To accumulate those numbers at a nose tackle spot where the primary job is to occupy tacklers, that tells a lot about his strength and aggressiveness. He undoubtedly spent a lot of his energies splitting double teams there.
He played nose tackle in Virginia's 3-4 defense, but projects as a three-technique (think Fred Robbins) in the 4-3. He's 6-foot-2, 290.
Here's what NFL Draft Scout had to say about him.
Pass rush: Good initial burst to slip through gaps and create havoc before the play has really begun. Uses his hands well to slap away the blocker's attempts to control him. Active feet. Constantly bouncing from side to side to counter the blocker's attempts and get his opponent off balance. Good acceleration through the gap once he has one. Has a late burst to close. Good use of upper-body strength, leg drive and his natural leverage for the bull rush, but his best pass-rush technique is a swim move. Lacks the height to consistently disrupt passing lanes. Active defender used on loops and stunts to help create pressure.
Run defense: Relies on his natural leverage advantage to hold up at the point of attack. Good initial pop to disengage quickly and has the quick hands and feet to counter and ultimately break free when initially stopped. Aggressive defender that steps into the hole and attacks the ball-carrier. Good effort in lateral pursuit, though he tires quickly once past the line of scrimmage. Has seen action at nose guard and defensive tackle in Virginia's 3-4 scheme, but lacks the bulk most teams prefer as a zero-technique in the NFL.
Explosion: Good initial burst, especially laterally, to slide through gaps. Flashes an explosive pop with his hands to slap away the blocker's attempts at controlling him. Arrives with a thud as a hitter.
Strength: Good use of leverage inside to hold up at the point. Lacks the bulk and strength to hold up consistently against the double-team, but is quick and active enough to split them on occasion. Good strength to slide off blocks and take down the ballcarrier.
Tackling: Despite lack of height, locates the ball quickly and works his way toward the action. Able to slide off blocks and drag ballcarrier to the ground. Stays square when not engaged by a blocker and is generally able to make the one on one tackle in tight quarters. Good drag-down tackler in pursuit. Arrives with a thump and wraps securely to make the stop.
Intangibles: A key reserve bef0re his breakout senior campaign. High effort player who was alternated between end (3-4) and nose guard as a senior. Plays with his emotions on his sleeve. Voted team captain despite 2009 being his first season as a full-time starter.
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