Let’s be honest, the Pro Bowl isn’t what it used to be. The NFL’s annual “all-star game” has arguably become the laughing stock of the league (overshadowed slightly by Roger Goodell’s handling of player discipline), but it is still an important achievement for young players who have not yet earned superstar status. If there is a player on the Patriots who fits that bill, it is certainly their budding star linebacker Jamie Collins. Entering only his third season, the Southern Mississippi product has become an exceptional playmaker and matchup nightmare for Bill Belichick’s defense. If Collins can take the next step and become the leader of New England’s defensive unit, he has a chance to be voted among the NFL’s best.
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Collins had limited playing time during his rookie season, but started to show serious potential in the divisional round against the Colts, when he picked off Andrew Luck and played excellent pass coverage against tight end Coby Fleener. Then in 2014, he built on that game and put together a very solid sophomore season appearing in 15 games and compiling 74 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. With that kind of versatility already on his resume, he has what it takes to make it to the Pro Bowl and be among the NFL elite. Collins is an extremely well rounded and balanced talent who is only going to better each year in Bill Belichicks elite player development system.
The only thing standing in Collins’ way to the Pro Bowl is the game’s current voting process. Players are selected by the fans, who can vote as many times as they want. This means that players who have a recognizable name to fans have the advantage to gain more votes even if they aren’t having star-like season.Collins doesn’t have a name or individual brand like J.J. Watt or Terrell Suggs due to his softspoken, no-nonsense approach to the game.That is why 2015 is Jamie Collins’ year to make a name for himself and become one the leagues top linebackers, which I believe he is capable of.
He will see his role become one of leadership this season because the attitude of New England’s defense will be getting an extreme makeover after the departure of last year’s rent-a-secondary. The Patriots defense won’t be relying on superstars this year and Collins is the perfect guy to lead a group with that mentality. It is also worth noting that he is the only one of New England’s starting linebackers who is 100 percent healthy going into the season with Jerod Mayo still recovering from a torn patellar tendon and Dont’a Hightower likely to miss a week a two to start the season.
Again, Collins may have the name recognition, the jersey sales or the endorsements that other star players have, but he is one of the best players on the NFL’s defending Super Bowl champion team.He never takes plays off and rarely will you ever see him not near the ball at the end of a play.With the Patriots looking to repeat, Jamie Collins will smell blood in the water in 2015 and make the Pro Bowl.