NFL’s Around the League ranked former Southern Miss football player Jamie Collins fifth out of 25 players “Making the Leap” in 2014.
NFL’s Around the League observed 25 players’ growth from last season, strengths, weaknesses, obstacles and expectations going into the 2014 football season.
Up until Week 14 of the 2013 regular season, Collins barely played, getting in the game in fewer than 25 percent of the New England Patriots regular season snaps. However, his 2013 Divisional Round Playoff performance against the Indianapolis Colts caught the eyes of many NFL critics and virtually put him in the discussion of the Top 10 to make a strong impact this season.
A converted outside linebacker in the NFL, Collins sometimes rushed the quarterback and participated in blitzing situations on defense. Nevertheless, he has the unusual ability of defending wide receivers in one-on-one situations.
Devin McCourty, Patriots safety and Collins team, told the Boston Globe that Collins can do everything. “ He’s one of those freakish athletes,” McCourty said. “ He can do what we do as defensive backs and as a linebacker.
According to NFL Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal, Collins provides Patriots head coach Bill Belichick versatility at the linebacker position, something that he has not always had in the past.
Nevertheless, the McCall Creek, Miss., native struggled during his first year to get off blocks in stopping the run. However, in the playoffs, he shuck off blockers for crucial tackles and interrupted the timing of routes for opposing wide receivers.
Collins started in place for Brandon Spikes, but he will be in Buffalo this year. Meaning, Collins should see more time on the field, playing alongside Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo as a “true three-down player”.
Collins ability to pass rush, stop the run and defend receivers in coverage brings another dimension to the Patriots defense, allowing him to limit the production of prominent wide receivers tight ends around the league.