With their second fifth-round pick of the 2016 draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Arkansas running back Alex Collins. It turns out they also picked up an Irish dancer who goes by Mitchell Findley.
OK, so Findley, or "Mitch Finn" for short, is just an alter ego Collins invented when he recently took up Irish dance at the urging of Bryanne Gatewood, the 15-year-old daughter of Collins' high school coach Doug Gatewood. But as unusual as Collins' new hobby might be, the real reason for selecting him is his skill and productivity as a runner.
"This kid, we talk about how we characterize our run game, being big, physical, runners that run violent, he fits all those," said Seahawks midlands area scout Aaron Hineline. "This is a kid that is one of three backs to go over 3,000 yards in the SEC in his career. The other ones being Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden. Pretty cool, too, because the kid didn't start until this year. It says a lot about him and his ability. Great kid. Competitive. Glad to add him to the mix, at this spot in the draft."
Collins, who is listed as 5-foot-10, 217 pounds, is the second running back picked by Seattle in the 2016 draft along with Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise, who was picked Friday in the third round. They join a running back room that also includes Thomas Rawls, who is recovering from a season-ending ankle injury, Christine Michael and Cameron Marshall.
Collins was a 1,000-yard rusher in all three of his seasons at Arkansas, including 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. As a sophomore, Collins rushed for 1,100 yards on 204 carries, a year after being named SEC Freshman of the Year after rushing for 1,026 yards on 190 carries.
As for Collin's new hobby, it's something he picked up recently, mostly at Gatewood's urging, but he says it does help him with strength and conditioning.
"Mitchell Findley is my alias," he said. "I just recently started Irish dance, and I got into that. It originated from Michael Flatley, professional Irish dancer. When I got in to it, I wanted to watch the best and learn from him. I watched "Lord of the Dance" on YouTube a few times, and kind of got it from there."
"My little sister (Gatewood), she does Irish dance. She kind of challenged me to get into it. I thought why not, I have some time on my hands and I can give it a go. She got me in to it and I tried it out and I ended up really liking it."
From Collins' NFL.com draft profile: "Collins is the epitome of consistency rushing for over 1,000 yards and at least 5.4 yards per carry in each of his three seasons. Vision and footwork are the catalysts for his elusiveness and he has flashed long speed. Collins is a repetitive runner lacking dynamic talent, but he's run in gap, power and zone schemes and should be a scheme fit for most teams looking at running back. Collins should be able to step right in and challenge for carries and red zone work immediately."
Here's a look at Seattle's picks in the 2016 draft, assuming the team doesn't make any more moves:
Round 1 | Pick 31 | No. 31 overall: OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
Round 2 | Pick 25 | No. 49 overall (from Chicago): DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Round 3 | Pick 27 | No. 90 overall: RB C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame
Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 94 overall (from Denver): TE Nick Vannett, Ohio State
Round 3 | Pick 35 | No. 97 overall*: OG Rees Odhiambo, Boise State
Round 5 | Pick 8 | No. 147 overall: DT Quinton Jefferson, Maryland
Round 5 | Pick 34 | No. 171 overall*: RB Alex Collins, Arkansas
Round 6 | Pick 40 | No. 215 overall*
Round 7 | Pick 22 | No. 243 overall (from Houston through New England)
Round 7 | Pick 26 | No. 247 overall
The Seahawks use their compensatory fifth round pick to select Alex Collins, a running back from Arkansas 171th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.