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Rookie refresher: Jamie Collins

07.16.13 at 10:15 pm ET
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In the days leading up to training camp, WEEI.com will reopen the book on the team’s 2013 draft class. The Pats, who traded their first-round pick to the Vikings, brought in seven players via the draft.

Jamie Collins

Outside linebacker, Southern Miss.

Drafted: Second round (52nd overall)

Height/weight: 6-foot-3 4/8, 250 pounds

Why they drafted him: He has above-average athleticism for his position, which means he has the ability to both get after the quarterback and hang with tight ends over the middle of the field. In a league in which teams are employing two tight-end sets and trying to create matchup issues against opposing linebackers and defensive backs, having a linebacker who can move (4.61 40-yard dash and a 41.5 inch vertical leap that was the best among linebackers at the combine) is becoming something a necessity in the NFL.

It’s common for players to move around before finding the position that gets him drafted, and such is the case with Collins, who is a quarterback-turned-safety-turned defensive end/linebacker. His experience at safety further adds to his resume as someone who can help the Pats in coverage.

What to expect from him as a rookie: The Patriots have slowly built a solid young group of linebackers, and overall they’ve invested some pretty high picks in their front seven. Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones were all first-round picks, while Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Collins were taken in the second round of their respective drafts.

With the Patriots primarily playing a 4-3, there doesn’t appear to be a major opening for playing time due to the presence of some versatile defenders in Mayo and Hightower to go with Spikes. However, the idea of Mayo in the middle with Hightower and Collins on the outside would certainly make the Patriots faster on defense and more capable against the pass. There’s no denying that Spikes is one of the better middle linebackers in the league against the run, but he’s one-dimensional.

Bill Belichick isn’t exactly tipping his hand regarding his plans, but that’s nothing new. He said following the draft that the Pats will see what kind of versatility Collins brings at the NFL level before figuring out where he ends up.

‘€œSome guys just do one thing and do it well. There’€™s a lot to be said for that too. It’€™s similar but I would say different than Hightower, but there’€™s some similarities. Dont’€™a did that as well — played inside, played outside, played defensive end in their nickel package at Alabama [in his last year]. Jamie did that more by season than Dont’€™a did. He was more within the game he would do those different things. Yeah, there’€™s some value to that but there’€™s value to doing one thing well too.’€

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