Dolphins defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan isn’t the only AFC East rookie who will be spending some time this offseason finding out just how his team plans to deploy him once the regular season gets underway.
Patriots second-round pick Jamie Collins is another player who could fill more than one role. At Southern Miss, Collins spent time as both a linebacker and a defensive end which left some uncertainty about how the Patriots would use them in their defensive front. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that coach Bill Belichick said Friday that Collins would begin working as a linerbacker, although he’s far from guaranteed to stay there for the rest of the offseason.
“He’s done different things and eventually as we go through the spring we’ll look at him in different spots, and see how it goes with him, and also see how it goes with him relative to other players we have and what kind of groupings, and how the team breaks up, where he might be able to help us,” Belichick said. “Not sure exactly how it’s going to turn out.”
The Patriots have other players in the front seven capable of playing in a variety of roles and you’d expect to see them trying a lot of different things defensively during the offseason as they try to maximize the output of all those players. Multiple looks manned by players capable of playing all over the field are essential to stopping the fast, multi-faceted offenses that exist all over the league. We’re not quite at the point where it is totally meaningless to talk about a team running a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, but the increasing importance of players like Jordan and Collins are part of a trend in defenses around the league that doesn’t figure to fade away any time soon.