The New England Patriots- among other teams- are starting their rookie mini-camps, and Bill Belichick was fielding questions from reporters this morning. When asked about top 2013 NFL Draft pick Jamie Collins, Belichick stated that the Southern Mississippi product would start off his work with the Patriots at the linebacker position. A hyper-athletic pass rusher, Collins is a hybrid defensive end or outside linebacker (4-3 or 3-4 at OLB) and has excellent coverage ability for the linebacker position. That’s something the Patriots really need, so it is no surprise to hear that this is going to be their starting point with Collins.
Here is what Bill Belichick said (via ESPN Boston), “He’s done different things and eventually as we go through the spring we’ll look at him in different spots, and see how it goes with him, and also see how it goes with him relative to other players we have and what kind of groupings, and how the team breaks up, where he might be able to help us. Not sure exactly how it’s going to turn out.”
I think it depends on what the Patriots see from the defensive ends on the roster, but I also think that Collins is going to end up getting more work at linebacker. He has the athleticism, speed, and length to be a high-impact player in coverage, and the Patriots coverage on short routes in the middle of the field was abysmal thanks to the LBs. Jerod Mayo is the only above-average coverage LB on the team from last season, as Brandon Spikes has major issues in coverage.
Collins will likely see significant work at both defensive end and linebacker, but it definitely makes sense for Belichick and the Patriots to start things off with him at LB.
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