The linebacker position isn't dying in the NFL, but it's certainly changing, and New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins may be the next big breakout player to benefit from the shift.
Many football purists may pine for the days of Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis or Mike Singletary, but the game has moved on from that paradigm of impact defensive players. Not to say that those players wouldn't still be All-Pros—of course they would! Rather, the way offenses attack defenses these days changes the type of linebacker teams are looking for out of the college ranks.
Note: We're not talking about one-dimensional pass-rushers here. In a way, that position has become a hybrid that is hardly even described with the word "linebacker" anymore. No, this is about the next in a long line of do-it-all/traditional linebackers who can effect the game in any number of ways.
We've already witnessed quite the spate of this new breed of linebacker entering the league. From the Carolina Panthers' tackle machine Luke Kuechly to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' extremely active Lavonte David (a favorite of B/R's Matt Bowen) and the Arizona Cardinals' talented but troubled Daryl Washington, there are plenty of guys who can lay claim to being one of the best young linebackers in the league.
Arguments could be made, of course, for a rookie like C.J. Mosley of the Baltimore Ravens or another second-year player like the Oakland Raiders' Sio Moore, but all the signs point to Jamie Collins being the next young linebacker to become a household name.
I'm hoping he has a huge 2nd year leap. Expectations are high. It seems as though he has the greatest upside potential on the team.