Patriots

Gronkowski on Collins: 'He's a freak'

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Gronkowski on Collins: 'He's a freak'

FOXBORO -- It wasn't a jaw-dropping defensive play. It was subtle. But it was the type of play that might not have been possible without an explosive first step and the quickness to close on a sliver of open space before it morphed into a gaping hole. 

When Jamie Collins sliced through the Patriots offensive line from his linebacker spot on the second level, he swallowed up a running play that might otherwise have had a chance to be a big gainer. It didn't result in a big hit or a turnover -- things for which Collins has become well-known over the first two seasons of his career -- but it was quietly effective and led to a negligible pickup.

Later in the practice, he broke up a would-be goal-line touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Scott Chandler, which ticked off Brady and led to a spirited back-and-forth between the quarterback and Patriots defensive coaches. 

Collins has made plays in all areas of the Patriots defense through four days of camp, cementing himself as one of the team's most important defenders after submitting a breakout season in 2014. He's swallowed up running backs, he's covered significant ground in the passing game, and he's helped give the team's linebackers a veteran voice alongside Jerod Mayo with Dont'a Hightower limited as he recovers from shoulder surgery

"He's a freak," Rob Gronnkowski said after Sunday's practice. "He's fast, he's long and he's strong. He plays the game of football how it should be. He knows how to hit, he knows how to cover. He's an overall great player so it's great going against guys like him. It makes you compete and gets you better."

While Collins is capable of doing the nitty-gritty work effectively, he admitted that what gets him going is getting his hands on the football. On Saturday, he was the reason that the entire Patriots offense was forced to run a lap because he stripped receiver Aaron Dobson, and almost no one on the offense reacted to try to recover the fumble or stop safety Devin McCourty from returning it. 

"I like getting the ball out," Collins said. "Being a defensive player, getting that ball out and going to sit back on that bench, that's the best feeling."

While his offensive teammates might not have been too happy with Collins as they did their extra running earlier this weekend, but they'll be more than with OK with it if the 25-year-old can make good on that ball-hawking mentality come September. 

The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

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The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

The Patriots will have a long wait on Thursday night before they are on the clock for their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It's a position they've found themselves in before. This will be the fourth time in the last 15 years that they've owned the 32nd overall pick. (It would have been the fifth time, but DeflateGate cost them a first-round pick in 2017.)

Will Bill Belichick be able to find some top-tier talent? Tom E. Curran looked at past drafts, and found that some teams have managed to strike gold with pick number 32, though it's far from a sure bet.

Check out Tom's list of the Top 15 players taken at No. 32 overall.>>>>

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NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

The New England Patriots currently are slated to close out the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with pick No. 32, and after passing on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in a similar spot in last year's draft, could they use this season's first-rounder to select Tom Brady's eventual successor?

Grier is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft and could be selected anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the early portion of the second round. What level of interest do the Patriots have in Grier with Thursday night's first round fast approaching? Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported an update Monday:

The New England Patriots have shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out. The New York Giants also like Grier, and he could be their fallback plan if they don’t take a signal caller in Round 1. The Carolina Panthers also have an infatuation with Grier and will consider him in the second round.

Would the Patriots really take Grier in Round 1, or is this a smokescreen designed to trip up opposing front offices?

The Patriots do need a quarterback of the future. Contrary to what we've seen from Tom Brady in recent seasons, the 41-year-old quarterback will, at some point, start to break down and eventually retire. There aren't any great candidates already on the roster to play the role of Brady's successor, so drafting a QB this weekend makes a lot of sense for New England.

Grier played really well for the Mountaineers last season. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards with 34 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He reportedly visited with the Patriots earlier this month, as did Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock could be available on Day 2 of the draft as well.

Click here for our final 2019 Patriots mock draft roundup>>>

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