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Film breakdown: Where does Jamie Collins fit in the Detroit Lions’ defense?

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The Lions star free agent signing is another defensive Swiss army knife.

NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions’ big signing on the opening day of the 2020 NFL free agency tampering window was the addition of former New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. The linebacker reunites with his former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and is another former Patriot making the jump to the Motor City.

Detroit gave the linebacker a deal worth $10 million a year, showing that the team believes the player can still be a star on defense despite reaching age 30 last October. He will be expected to instantly step into the defense and be an impact player.

Similar to the Lions big ex-Patriot free agent signing last year, Trey Flowers, Collins can play all along the front-7. He is usually regarded as an off-ball linebacker, but takes a lot of snaps at the jack position as well.

He is great run defender, especially on the end. He sets the edge very well and has the strength to hold his ground, fight through blocks, and to blow up plays when he knifes into the backfield.

Collins is a better run defender on the edge than the current starter at jack, Devon Kennard, but just like Kennard he is not really a pass rusher. Kennard is probably a better edge rusher, though, so there is a trade off when you replace Kennard with Collins out wide.

The newly-signed veteran operates well at either middle linebacker position as well. He is a smart run defender who diagnoses plays well and rarely misses tackles. While he is not a player you can ask much of in pass coverage, he does not make many huge errors either.

Patricia loves versatility on defense and Collins gives him just that. The veteran linebacker can line up at pretty much any linebacker position and play well. The Lions are a team who clearly values the ability to stop the run over pass rushing, and Collins’ run defending ability checks that box as well. The new linebacker may siphon away snaps from both Kennard and Davis over the course of the season. Detroit’s defense can get super creative by moving Flowers and Collins all across the front seven, allowing the team to play a ton of different looks up front.

Kennard and Davis are both entering their finals season with the Lions in 2020. The addition of Collins helps the team mitigate the losses long term, and he might even be an improvement at both positions.

Collins is the perfect Patricia signing in Detroit. He makes the team better in the short term and long term. Unlike Flowers last year, they did not have to pay much a premium for his services either.

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