Rookies in Focus: Jamie Collins
There’s an obvious learning curve for any rookie entering the NFL, but some handle it better than others. With first impressions perhaps skewing our views more than ever due to social media’s inherent ability to overreact, we often jump to conclusions on prospects while wasting no time to assign the “bust” label. However, all prospects develop at different rates, and this particular group may have needed the first half of the season to adjust to the speed of the league.
Round 2, No. 52: Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
Role: Played in all 18 games (including playoffs), mostly as a reserve before starting both playoff games.
One of the most versatile defensive players in the 2013 draft, no one knew exactly how Collins was going to be used coming into the season. It’s not often that a player can post double digit sacks while telling reporters at the NFL combine that he’s a “coverage player.” It’s also rare that a player with pass rushing ability boasts “former safety,” on his resume, but that’s the type of skill set that Collins brought to the Patriots’ defense. While it took him a while to find his niche on the field, he started to show his immense potential toward the end of the season.
|Collins||1st Half||2nd Half (incl. playoffs)||Overall|
Unlike some of the other players on the most-improved list, it was less about poor play and more about inability to get on the field for Collins. He stepped into a full linebacking corps in New England, so he wasn’t needed right away and he managed only 94 snaps in the Patriots’ first 11 games. With great versatility often comes great responsibility, and for Collins, it may have been his attempt to master many skills that also led to his slow start.
We saw him in a variety of roles often blitzing, playing nickel linebacker, or even rush linebacker in 3-4 sets. It’s rare to see a player with the ability to cycle through those various roles, but once Collins got the hang of it, he proved a dangerous defensive weapon.
Collins loses Jacquizz Rodgers on the crossing route:
Collins easily moved by the double team by Charles Clay and Dion Sims:
Collins loses the edge against Dion Sims:
Second Half (including Playoffs)
It wasn’t until Week 14 that Collins doubled his previous career-high in snaps, playing 55 against the Cleveland Browns in a +1.3 effort. However, his real coming-out party was the divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts when he posted a +6.9 grade while showing well in all aspects of the game. Though only a one-game snapshot, he flashed every bit of his potential while dominating blockers as a blitzer, covering down the field in both man and zone coverage, and defeating blockers in the running game.
Here’s a look at some of his best plays from the game.
Collins stays with Coby Fleener in man coverage:
Collins runs the seam and finds the ball for the INT:
Collins beats Donald Brown on the bullrush to pick up the hit on Andrew Luck:
…and later sidesteps Brown for the sack:
Collins beats Hugh Thornton’s pull block to make the stop:
Collins works off Fleener at the second level to get in on the tackle:
It took a while for Collins to get going, but if his second half is any indication, the Patriots have themselves a three-down defender capable of impacting the game in coverage, as a pass rusher, and in the running game. If he continues to progress, he’ll likely move around the defense on a week-to-week basis.
Follow Steve on Twitter.