Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
2. He is coming off a breakout 2014 season
In 2014, Collins led the Patriots with 116 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumbles recovered and tied for the team lead with two picks. In other words, Collins led the defense in more statistical categories than any other player.
The Southern Miss product didn’t slow down in the playoffs, racking up 17 tackles, three passes defended and an interception.
Collins’ efforts in 2014 were enough to land him at No. 40 on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 101 players in the NFL. Here’s their justification for the ranking:
"Pushed himself up the Top 101 with a strong playoff run that was the exclamation mark on an excellent second half of the year. His only disappointment was the start to the year which was less than was expected, but improved when it mattered most. A versatile defender who was particularly excellent coming forward."
In addition to placing him on their All-PFF Second-Team (which means he was one of the top four linebackers in the NFL last season), PFF noted that Collins led the NFL in a very interesting category: quarterback pressures from the inside linebacker position, of which Collins had a whopping 26.
Considering how well Collins played last season, Patriots fans should feel confident that they have themselves a top-tier linebacker who hasn’t even reached his prime yet.
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