Even though Jamie Collins was the first player selected by Bill Belichick in the 2013 NFL Draft, it seems like he has played the least when it comes to any rookies that have played for the New England Patriots.
This was expected, as Collins was considered raw coming out of Southern Mississippi University. He put good numbers as a senior, leading the Conference USA in tackles for loss (20) and tallying the third-highest conference total in sacks (10). Collins also possessed long arms (33 and three-fourth inches) and posted a solid 40-yard dash time for a pass rusher (4.64).
The problem is the school that he played at. Facing off against players from the C-USA is very different from facing off against players in the NFL. Most players with his background go later in the draft, because they are not expected to make a big impact right away. It could take multiple seasons for a player like Collins to adjust to the pros; that is why Patriots scouts were reportedly torn about selecting Collins in the second round. Belichick probably overruled his scouts because he has was in love with Collins’ upside.
If Belichick truly does love the rookie, he is not showing that much in Collins’ rookie season. The only game that Collins has played extensively in was the one against the Denver Broncos, and he shined. He racked up 10 tackles in that game, which is almost half of his total (26). Collins’ athleticism was showcased, as he constantly showed his ability to drop back and disrupt the Broncos’ pass catchers.
At the very least, Collins could replace Brandon Spikes when Belichick calls for his nickel defense. Adding a fast, athletic linebacker to the coverage unit might give Belichick’s pass rushers more time to get to the opposing quarterback. Collins could also be another useful body that could help shore up the poor Patriots’ run defense. The possibilities are endless so long as the rookie gets more time on the field.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.