1) Introduction: When the Packers lost Darren Sharper after the 2004 season, they were in desperate need of a suitable replacement at safety. Nick Collins was their answer. Drafted in the second round of 2005, he was an instant starter and has missed only three complete games in his career. The 2008 season would be his breakout year with a career-high 7 interceptions, three of them for touchdowns. Since then, he has been a perennial Pro Bowl player and Second Team All-Pro selection. On March 12, 2010, Nick Collins finally signed a long-awaited three-year contract with the Packers, solidifying himself as a staple of the defense.
Nicholas Cardell Collins
Height: 5-11 Weight: 206 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: Already a two-time Pro Bowler entering the season, expectations were naturally high for Nick Collins. Over the past two years – arguably the best of his career – he made 125 tackles, defended 28 passes, caught 13 interceptions, forced one fumble, recovered four more, and had one sack. In addition, the initial uncertainties at the nickel cornerback and strong safety positions (between Burnett, Bigby, and eventually Peprah) put more of a burden on his veteran shoulders.
4) Highlights / Lowlights: What will definitely become one of the biggest highlights of Nick Collins’ career is the pick-six he made in Super Bowl XLV. Helping to secure an early lead, Collins’ interception was more of a gift-wrapped package than a dazzling display of athleticism, yet it was his effort to take it to the house that will make it part of the history reels. Though known for his ball-hawking abilities, Collins is also known for making some bad angles and whiffing tackles. His worst moment came in the NFC Championship Game, when Caleb Hanie connected with Earl Bennett for the Bears’ second touchdown. Collins was in a perfect position to make the stop, but didn’t even get a hand on him as Bennett whizzed by.
5) Contributions to the overall team success: Nick Collins is one of the few players on the team to have started in every game of the season. Despite his overall excellent play as a free safety in coverage, Collins could be hit-or-miss when it came to the big moments. He did intercept five passes, but he also dropped five more. His speed couldn’t always make up for his bad angles when targeting receivers, and those whiffed tackles were sometimes costly. Collins did improve in his run support, though.
6) Contributions during the end-of-season 6-game run: Even though Collin’s missed tackle in the NFC Championship Game almost cost them the Super Bowl run, he made up for it with big plays elsewhere. Aforementioned was his pick-six against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. On top of that, Collins made the game-clinching interception against the Chicago Bears in Week 17 of the regular season, which secured a Wild Card spot for the Packers. He also managed an interception on a desperation throw by Eli Manning in the fourth quarter against the Giants. Unfortunately, Collins did sit out most of the NFC Division game after suffering cramps.
Season Report Card:
(C+) Level of expectations met during the season
(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success
(B-) Contributions to team’s success during the playoff run (last 6 games)
Overall Grade for the Year: (B)——————Follow @ChadToporski