As the Patriots say goodbye to Jamie Collins, the spotlight shifts to rookie Elandon Roberts. Will he justify Bill Belichick’s faith in him?
A sixth-round pick out of Houston, Elandon Roberts has seen his playing time increase over recent weeks. He will now be asked to kick it into yet another gear as the presumed starter in a linebacking group that contains Dont’a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich.
After barely sniffing the field in the first quarter of the season, Roberts has recorded 20 total tackles in the last four games (12 solo) and is showing a natural nose for the ball. He won’t be asked to carry all of the load, however, as the bulk of his work will likely come on early downs, with Barkevious Mingo likely to sub in on passing downs.
Leading up to the draft last spring, Roberts reportedly trained with former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson. It paid off, has he posted a 40-yard time of 4.49 seconds at his pro day. That speed has afforded him the ability to play downhill and surge toward the ball, a point to which running backs Isaiah Crowell and Giovanni Bernard can both personally attest.
At 5’11” and 235 lbs., Roberts is admittedly a bit undersized for the position. But his speed and tenacity, however, have made up for his lack of size thus far. Through eight games, it’s clear that Bill Belichick has seen enough of him to feel comfortable pulling the trigger on a deal to send Jamie Collins away and slot the rookie in his place.
Now it’s up to Roberts to prove to Belichick, and the rest of the league, that his coach made the right move.