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June 23, 2017

Rollins Ready To Rebound


A year ago at this time, I defended a third-year player coming off a poor season. Davante Adams proved me right by catching 70 passes for 997 yards and 12 TDs in 2016. Today, I’ll be defending another third-year player coming off a poor season – one whom I’m every bit as confident will prove me right again.

People like to compare Adams and Damarious Randall, but the much more apt comparison is to Quinten Rollins. Both players were second-round picks. Both players rely more on technique than great physical talent. Both players were bothered by leg injuries in their disappointing second seasons. And most importantly, both players showed enough as rookies to make it clear they have what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

While Randall, the team’s No. 1 pick a few months earlier, was getting all the hype in the summer of ’16, I remember being more impressed with Rollins. The former hoops star didn’t move as well as Randall and he didn’t make as many splash plays, but he was much more consistent. Pedestrian young wide receivers who would beat Randall had almost no chance against the more physical and more technically sound Rollins.

I’m not a big fan of using injuries as an excuse to explain a player’s failings, but in some cases, physical issues simply can’t be ignored. Adams is one such example and Rollins is another. Neither player is skilled enough to consistently win one-on-one battles at less than full strength. That was, pardon the pun, painfully obvious with Adams (sprained ankle) in 2015 and with Rollins in 2016. Not surprisingly, both players eventually lost their confidence – which manifested itself in way too many dropped passes and blown coverages.

In the case of Rollins, who missed three games in October with a nagging groin injury that would require offseason surgery, that loss of confidence led to tentative play. Rather than just reacting, you could almost see him thinking as the ball was being snapped. That’s obviously no way to play cornerback in the NFL.
In contrast, Rollins showed good eyes, anticipation and ball skills as a rookie. He also diagnosed plays quickly, jumped routes and tackled surely in the open field. I found it uncanny considering he didn’t even play football until his senior year at Miami of Ohio. Heck, the ex-point guard was still more comfortable defending against a pick and roll than a pick play. Even his lack of ideal top-end speed didn’t overly concern me back then. I figured his feel for the game would compensate – much like it did for Casey Hayward.

Here are just two of many examples that show the difference between a healthy Rollins and a not so healthy Rollins. He’s going up against the same team. He’s on the same field. He’s even lined up in the same spot. But he’s not the same player. In the first video from 2015, Rollins covers Golden Tate like a blanket. In the second video from last January, Rollins is no match for Marvin Jones, an inferior wide receiver.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I just can’t imagine the impressive rookie I saw in 2015 failing again in 2017. In fact, if healthy, the only thing I see stopping Rollins from having a productive season is his own coaching staff. My hunch is that Randall, top pick Kevin King and veteran Davon House will be given the majority of the snaps in training camp, leaving Rollins with fewer opportunities to shine. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s used primarily on special teams early in the season. But I would be shocked if that’s still the case in November.

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7 Responses “Rollins Ready To Rebound”

  1. MT
    June 5, 2017 at 11:20 am

    “In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s used primarily on special teams early in the season. But I would be shocked if that’s still the case in November.”

    Ah, so who’s the injury candidate? Lord knows nobody on this team, especially on the D, gets increased snaps based on game production. In all seriousness, hopefully Randall and Rollins subpar play was a product of teams studying tape+injuries and can bounce back this year. Superior play by the CBs would turn the secondary into one of the better ones in the league I think.

  2. Saguaro
    June 6, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I hope you are right. It is clear that injuries are a huge factor in how well any player and any team performs, especially by the end of the year. I am actually pretty optimistic about the CBs this season. It’s the OLBs that I fear won’t hold up.

  3. Nerd
    June 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Way more worried about OLB than CB.

  4. Nerd
    June 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Seems like we’ve got a plethora of “Micah Hyde” type guys, all of whom are better than Micah Hyde.

    Randall, Rollins, Bryce, Evans, Josh Jones.

    • Michael Rodney
      June 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

      At this point, none of those guys is better than Micah Hyde.

  5. June 11, 2017 at 9:23 am

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it’s Rollins playing in the slot much before November and it wouldn’t take an injury either. Rollins might not have the speed Randall has but he’s more physical. If you look at both players rankings their rookie seasons it was Rollins who was ranked higher and IIRC it wasn’t all that close. Good thing Joe Whitt is the CB Coach because Joe isn’t going to give a damn where a player was drafted. He’s going to play the better player. I honestly believe the better of the two is Rollins.

    Like Nerd pointed out, the OLB is the position which might keep Packers fans from sleeping at night. The secondary will be fine this season.

  6. Jeremy
    June 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I think House and King are going to be the starters on the outside, with Randall and Rollins battling for the nickel spot. They’re both project guys that had no business being drafted as high as they were, or with the expectation of contributing so much so soon. I think they can be decent players but any serious expectation of either being a legitimate starter on the outside is misguided at best and more realistically, outright laughable.

    Interested to see where Jones lines up outside of dime situations. Guy has the flash to potentially steal playing time from these guys depending on how they choose to use him. That will largely be dictated by how 23 and 24 start the season- if they start slow and the confidence isn’t there and the rookies are playing at or close to the same level, then the logic would be that the rookies have nowhere to go but up and you let them play. If that happens, get comfortable on ST’s 23 and 24.

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