Rookies in Focus: Jamie Collins

Steve Palazzolo highlights the second-half turnarounds of 2013 rookies.

| 3 years ago

Rookies in Focus: Jamie Collins

rookie-improve-collinsThere’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.

[Click to see: comparison graphic | Johnathan Cyprien | Justin Pugh | Lane Johnson | Dee Milliner | Jamie Collins | Kawann Short | Kenny Vaccaro]


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
Overall -2.9 +15.0 +12.1
Coverage -2.0 +5.2 +3.2
Vs. Run -1.7 +3.6 +1.9
Pass Rush +0.7 +5.6 +6.3


First Half

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 MT vs Jacquizz

Collins easily moved by the double team by Charles Clay and Dion Sims:

Collins collapsed on DT

Collins loses the edge against Dion Sims:

Collins Loses Edge vs 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 vs Fleener

Collins runs the seam and finds the ball for the INT:

Collins INT

Collins beats Donald Brown on the bullrush to pick up the hit on Andrew Luck:

Collins bullrush

…and later sidesteps Brown for the sack:

Collins Sack

Collins beats Hugh Thornton’s pull block to make the stop:

Collins vs Thornton PBL

Collins works off Fleener at the second level to get in on the tackle:

Collins at 2L


Final Word

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.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • WordsOfWisdom82

    Once Wilfork goes down, their front 7 is going to need all the help it can get. The whole Patriots team is hanging by a thread. If old man Brady, Wilfork, or Gronkowski goes down (which is likely), they’re a different team; one that’s not a legit Super Bowl contender.

    • Sull

      Gronkowski, Wilfork, Mayo, Kelly all went down for the season last year and the Pats were Superbowl contenders. What makes you think this year will be any different?

      • vr1000

        If people would take an objective look at the Pats roster, they would see good young players all over the team. Collins, Solder, Chandler Jones, Logan Ryan, Hightower, the RBs etc. The Pats are resilient, and they cut their losses, if guys cannot play BB cuts them and moves on.

      • Chris from Cape Cod

        They don’t think, they just sterotype. Its easier to characterize a team by one assistant coach 7 years ago (not filming, but filming in the wrong area) in one half of one game they won by 24 points than to have to think objectively.

    • Joe

      Please provide another team that would be legit SB contender after losing a Pro Bowl (HOF potential) leader at a major position.

    • Edmar Oliveira

      tell me what happens to the Seahawks if they lose Wilson, Lynch and Chancellor/Sherman?

      WHat happens to the Broncos if they lose Manning, Thomas and von Miller?

      The Pats lost many guys at the same time and still contended for the SB. That says it all.

      • AC

        The Broncos did lose Miller, on top of Harris, Wolfe, Moore, Vickerson, and Clady bud. One of the league’s best defensive players, one of the best corners in the league, two good DLineman, a good safety, and an All-Pro LT. I love how you said if the Broncos lost Manning, by the way. What would happen if the Patriots lost Brady?

  • Chris from Cape Cod

    No mention in the comments about Collins himself? For all the 2nd round Defensive misses team NE has made, its something to see a guy who looked like an oversized Troy Polomalu at the end of the year. It reminds me of what the Pats were expecting to get when they signed Adalius Thomas back in 07′.