Collins is a versatile chess piece who can play all over in Lions head man Matt Patricia’s hybrid defense.
Not only does Collins have great size for the position, but he also has the athleticism to excel in pass coverage and to get after the quarterback -- two aspects of the game the Lions have sorely lacked.
Focusing more on his sack production, Collins’ seven total sacks in 2019 were a career-high for the veteran linebacker. Actually, Collins had the most sacks of any off-ball linebacker in the NFL last season.
Now, he also had the third-most pass-rushing attempts as well, but the number of opportunities shouldn’t decrease in Detroit.
The Lions used Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai and Jarrad Davis to rush the quarterback plenty.
Throw in another one of the Lions' free-agent acquisitions in Reggie Ragland, and Patricia now has five linebackers who were all in the top 25 last year for the highest percentage of pass-rushing attempts on passing downs.
With an ample amount of opportunities to get to the quarterback, Collins took full advantage.
In fact, for all linemen and linebackers with over 100 total snaps rushing the passer in 2019, Collins had the highest sack-per-pass-rush-attempt rate in the entire NFL.
Pro Football Focus graded Collins with the 12th best pass-rush grade for qualifying linebackers, too.
So, just exactly how did Collins have so much success taking down the quarterback?
Well, as mentioned earlier, Collins had a total of seven sacks in 2019.
He was credited with a full sack on six occasions and only a half-sack on two others -- equaling eight rush attempts that were logged as a sack.
Looking at all eight of his snaps, some strong trends appeared as to why he was successful.
Despite lining up on the edge a good amount, Collins only had one sack come from that alignment.
Not once did Collins ever face off against an offensive tackle on any of his sacks.
On his one sack coming from the edge, he didn’t have to engage with an offensive tackle at all. He had a free run at the quarterback, with no blocker whatsoever due to a nice pass-rush stunt.
Speaking of stunts, it was rare for Collins to sack the quarterback without being involved in some sort of designed trickery along the defensive line.
Again, there was only one time where Collins beat the man across from him one-on-one for a sack with no twists or delayed blitzes.
Overall, there has been speculation that Collins could replace Devon Kennard’s JACK backer role on the edge.
Probably not a wise idea to ask Collins to be solely an EDGE rusher, as that’s not how he wins.
In no way am I trying to diminish what Collins achieved in 2019.
However, former Patriots -- as exemplified by Collins' tenure with the Cleveland Browns -- are notorious for leaving New England and being unable to replicate their success elsewhere.
If the Lions want the same production from Collins as he had last year, Patricia is going to have to scheme up creative ways to manufacture sacks for Collins.