8 most essential players on Patriots roster
3. Jamie Collins
2015 story: Despite missing a month due to a serious illness, Collins led the NFL with five forced fumbles and led the Patriots with 89 total tackles. In addition, Collins accumulated 5.5 sacks, six passes defended, an interception and a fumble recovery and return for touchdown.
Why he’s essential: Collins is quickly becoming the defensive equivalent of Rob Gronkowski; opposing offensive coordinators lose sleep figuring out how to work around the All-Pro linebacker. There isn’t one thing Collins does particularly well, because he does everything well. He’s fast enough to cover the field sideline to sideline, powerful enough to be a top contributor on run defense and skilled enough to rush the passer from the inside. This writer even went so far as to vouch for Collins to play tight end.
5 reasons why Jamie Collins will win Defensive Player of the Year
What would happen if Collins got hurt in 2016: Just like the case with Hightower, backups Freeny and McClellin would be called on to pick up the slack and both the Patriots’ run defense and pass rush would be significantly hindered. On the whole, the team would miss Collins’ freaky athleticism and energetic play.
Recent news about Collins: Like Hightower, Collins has been mum on extension talks, although the trading of Chandler Jones to Arizona indicates the Patriots intend to keep Collins around.
Next: 2. Tom Brady