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Lions plan to utilize Jamie Collins Sr.'s versatility

According to NextGen stats, new Lions outside linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. was one of four players last season with at least 20 percent of his snaps aligned at edge rusher, defensive tackle and linebacker, which shows what kind of versatility Detroit is getting in Collins.

He played 81 percent of the snaps for New England's top-ranked defense last year and recorded 81 tackles, 21 quarterback hurries, 10 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

When it comes to how Lions head coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin will use Collins in their scheme this season, expect more of the same -- Collins moving all around the defense, potentially from snap to snap.

"I try to look at it through the lens of the quarterback," Patricia said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters when asked about Collins. "Jamie Collins is definitely one of those guys that when the quarterback looks over to the other side of the defense, they try to figure out, 'OK, where is this guy and what is he doing?'

"I think when you can keep that moving or make it a variable for the quarterback each and every snap, that just adds to what the quarterback has to think about. When you can do things like that with players, and certainly Jamie is one of those guys, it helps."

It's completely plausible based on Collins' size and extreme athleticism that he plays anywhere within the front seven at any certain time. Not only was Collins one of the best off-the-ball pass rushers from the linebacker position a year ago, he was also among the top graded cover linebackers in the league. His seven sacks would have tied for the team lead in Detroit a year ago. What he does is give Patricia and Undlin a lot of options.

"Inside. Outside. It's my job. I'm here doing what's best for the team," Collins said this week. "I just want my teammates to know that I got their back. Wherever they need me, I'm there. It is what it is. They put me inside, I'll play inside. They put me outside, I'll play outside. That's me anyway."

Detroit ranked among the bottom of the league in most major defensive statistical categories a year ago. They were also 24th in total takeaways and 24th in turnover differential. Their seven interceptions were tied for the lowest in the league.

The Lions revamped their defense this offseason with potentially half a dozen new starters with the hopes of getting more contact on the quarterback and more hands on the football.

"When it comes to the ball, I'm kind of greedy, so I like to switch it up every now and then and hunt for ball," Collins said of his position flexibility.

"I like to rush the passer, but a lot of times I like to catch interceptions, too. So, I'll do whatever. They want me to play safety, I'll drop some weight and play safety. It's my job. Whatever they pay me to do, I'm going to do."

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