Patriots draft three for defense, one for offense
Senior Bowl North Squad wide receiver Aaron Dobson of Marshall (3) watches from the North bench in the fourth quarter of the Senior Bowl College football game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Rutgers defensive back Logan Ryan runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Rutgers safety Duron Harmon answers questions from the print media during the Big East Conference NCAA college football media day, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Newport, R.I. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jamie Collins made his mark with one of the worst college teams in the country. Now he’s headed for one of the best in the NFL after being drafted by the New England Patriots.
The outside linebacker was chosen in the second round last night by the Patriots, who were just one win away from reaching the Super Bowl last season. Southern Mississippi was 0-12 in Collins’s senior season when he had 10 sacks.
“It’s motivation and it’s adversity,” Collins said in a conference call after being drafted with the first of the Patriots two picks in the round. “I felt like I had to play hard every game just because we were losing.
“I felt like that was going to draw a lot of attention to me to see how I played, despite the fact that we went 0-12.”
The Patriots took Collins with the 52nd overall pick that they obtained in a trade in which they sent their first-round pick to Minnesota. Then they chose wide receiver Aaron Dobson of Marshall with their own pick in the round, the 59th.
And in the third round, they took two defensive backs from Rutgers – cornerback Logan Ryan with the 83rd pick, also acquired from the Vikings, and safety Duron Harmon with the 91st pick, who was expected to be drafted much later, if at all.
In today’s final day of the three-day draft, the Patriots have one pick in the fourth round and three in the seventh.
Three of the players chosen yesterday play positions where the Patriots need help. The team was vulnerable to big pass plays early last season. It also lacked depth at wide receiver, then lost its top two pass catchers when free agent Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos and Brandon Lloyd was released.
But they used their first pick of the draft on an outside linebacker.
Collins is a skilled pass rusher who arrived at Southern Mississippi as a safety. He became an outside linebacker as a sophomore and played defensive end last season, finishing his college career with 21 sacks.
“Coming in as a safety to linebacker to end, it’s different going up against those big guys every play,” he said. “I never thought sacking the quarterback would feel so good.”
In his junior year, Southern Mississippi went 12-2. Then Coach Larry Fedora resigned to become head coach at North Carolina and Ellis Johnson took his place. He was fired on Nov. 27 after just one season.
“A lot of people didn’t buy into the system,” Collins said. “You know how it is when new coaches come in.”
The Patriots don’t. Coach Bill Belichick was there before any of his current players. And even though the Patriots have won three of the five Super Bowls they’ve reached in his 13 seasons, his drafting success has been spotty.
Of the four wide receivers the Patriots have drafted in the past seven years, only 2012 seventh-rounder Jeremy Ebert remains. Their complex offense is difficult to master. Chad Johnson, then known as Chad Ochocinco, struggled with it in 2011 when he made 15 catches in his only season with the team.
Dobson is optimistic he’ll be able to handle it.
“I think I’m ready,” he said. “It’s definitely something that I’ve been getting prepared for, just going through this whole process, just people telling me about the pressure of going into the league. So I’m just trying to go in, be level-headed and go in focused.”
The Patriots added veterans Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins at wide receiver. And now Dobson gives quarterback Tom Brady a fourth new receiver.
For Dobson, playing with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks is “not intimidating at all. I’m excited just to get to know him and start catching balls from him.”