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Five things you need to know about Patriots second-round pick Jamie Collins

04.30.13 at 6:12 pm ET

After getting a chance to talk to Trent Hammond — who coached the Patriots’ second-round pick Jamie Collins at Franklin County High School in Mississippi — I learned five things:

Collins made the most of a rough childhood, and is a Mississippi kid through and through:

“One thing I can tell you is that he was one of the most dependable guys I’ve ever come across. He came from a tough background in Southwest Mississippi — he didn’t have a whole lot, and his parents passed away when he was younger. He basically had to take care of himself, but he succeeded. A lot of those kids, maybe some of them get lost, but he got his degree in 3 1/2 years. This is a kid who had offers from Auburn and some of the other SEC schools, and he chose to play at home and be with his family and get his degree. The fact that he’s already been planning for his life beyond football, that tells you a lot about who he is.”

This picture of Collins is real and not photoshopped:

“That picture was from the New Orleans Bowl, and ESPN showed it two or three times that night. He took about two steps and got up there and blocked the kick. He actually blocked two or three of those over the course of his career. Just put him in the middle and have him get up there and try and knock it down. He has a vertical of 42 inches.” (For more of Collins showing off his physical skills, check out this video of him at the combine.)

He first displayed his freaky athletic skills as a high schooler:

“In high school, I had him at quarterback and safety. When the Auburn coaches came to visit and look at Jamie, it was the spring and he was on the track. They set the high jump bar at six feet, and he was jumping over the bar and catching footballs in the air. Just amazing.

“We thought he wore a cape — that’s why we called him Superman. We would go in at halftime and Jamie would go into the locker room, duck into a phone booth and come out as Superman. One year, we were a small 3A school playing a big 6A school, and we were down 19-0 at halftime because of some mistakes we made. We go into the locker room and Jamie comes up to me and says, ‘Give me the ball.’ He ran the ball 24 times in the second half and we won 21-19.”

The accusations of Collins dogging it have been around since high school, but there’s a good reason for it:

“I had these conversations with college coaches, and there was some belief that it looked like there was a lack of effort on his part. Simple fact was that he makes everything look easy. It looked like he wasn’t running all that fast, but did anyone ever catch him? No — nobody ever caught him. It didn’t look like was playing hard, but he was still getting off blocks and making the play. He does things … I hate to use the word graceful when it comes to football, but he looks really graceful at times out there when he makes the play. It looks like he’s not putting in an effort out there, but he’s going hard. Are there times where he could play harder? Yeah, but that’s on every kid. He’s still making the plays.”

He’s got a good chance to be the coverage linebacker the Patriots have been looking for the last few years:

“My 11-year-old son was totally discouraged when he went to the Patriots. But he really fits in with what Bill Belichick does. He has a way of taking guys and turning them into big names and getting them on a poster. He can do a lot of things with a guy like Jamie. Belichick may be a dry guy, but he knows how to get the most out of a kid, and he understands how to push buttons, and he knows that sometimes kids might need a different sort of push when it comes to getting maximum effort.

“Jamie, with his ability to cover people — running backs and tight ends in the flat — and his ability to run with guys in the flat, I think Belichick will make him a household name. As for how he might project, I think he’ll be a guy who can fit into a lot of different roles. At the same time, just like when he went from a small high school to Southern Miss, he had to step his game up. What did he do? He went to college and started at four positions over four different years. He found whatever niche he needed to find to get on the field. In college, he played wherever they put him. He went from safety to linebacker to a ‘robber’ type to a hand down defensive end. Wherever they put him, he made plays.

“However, at the same time, that hurt him. If he went to college and played four years as a linebacker and hone his skills at one position, he’d be further along and the professional teams would have better senior tape because of it. You’re judging a kid as a defensive end who’s been there one year. I think he’ll lift his game up and progress the same way he was able to progress as a high schooler and in college.”

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