By: Ian Logue
Last year the Patriots were looking to add an impact player when they selected Chandler Jones out of Syracuse and Friday night that’s the direction they went in yet again, selecting linebacker/defensive end Jamie Collins out of Southern Mississippi.
Jamie Collins is a guy who Bill Belichick considers to be a versatile player for his defense.. (FILE:USPresswire)
Heading into college Collins wasn’t even a defensive player and was actually a former high school quarterback. He was also a guy who was used to winning, having won back-to-back state championships during his sophomore and junior seasons. In college, he enjoyed some early success but his final season didn’t go quite as well.
His team went 7-6 in 2009, followed by 8-5 in 2010 and 11-2 in 2011 where they beat Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl 24-17.
However, at the end of the 2011 season head coach Larry Fedora accepted an offer to take the head coaching job at North Carolina. The move didn’t work out too well for Collins or the Golden Eagles football team. From there new head coach Ellis Johnson directed the team to an 0-12 season in 2012, which according to several reports caused Collins not to play as hard as a probably should have because he wasn’t completely pleased with the coaching staff.
Collins told reporters Friday night that even though the team was losing, he was still playing hard during every game.
“I felt like I had to play hard every game just because we were losing,” Collins said. “I felt like that was going to draw a lot of attention to me to see how I played, despite that we went 0-12.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and their overall record ultimately left Johnson without a job after just one season.
Now here Collins is, playing for a football team who has never experienced a losing season since Tom Brady took over as quarterback back in 2001, so losing shouldn’t be something he’ll need to get used to. He’s also already familiar with Bill Belichick, telling reporters Friday night that the two have “talked a lot and watched some film,” so it appears Belichick felt comfortable enough with Collins to bring him in.
He’s got an interesting back story. Having been a quarterback in high school Collins actually started out his collegiate career as a safety but moved over to defensive end during his senior season, totaling 10 sacks. It’s an intriguing transition and as we know, Belichick’s a guy who loves versatility. Now he’s got a guy who’s played several positions and while he won’t be taking snaps under center and probably won’t be playing safety, the good thing about a player like that is the fact he understands the roles of each position which will certainly make him a big asset.
As a result he’s a guy who appears can rush the passer as well as drop into coverage and Collins even enters the NFL with a 97 yard interception return for a touchdown that he made in college on his resume. Plus, according to Belichick, he’s played inside linebacker as well as outside in the 3-4 defense, which seems to make him a good fit in this system.
Belichick also compared Collins to Dont’a Hightower, who like Collins is another guy who fits the versatility mold defensively. Now it’s just a matter of the rookie being able to come in and prove he can be a productive player.
“He has a lot of versatility,” Belichick told reporters Friday night. “[He’s a] solid player, hard worker, great kid.”
“He was basically a defensive end last year, his sophomore year he was more of an off the line linebacker, his freshman year he was a safety and his junior year he was a 3/4 outside linebacker where he was on the line but he was in coverage, where as this past year he really wasn’t in coverage very often. So he has a lot of versatility, but we’ll see how it goes.”