One of the popular themes that we like to joke about around here when it comes to the sometimes less than erudite musings of the Yinzer fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the idea of players simply changing their positions because obviously they would be better learning a new position entirely for whatever specific reason the commenter might have for moving him there.
The primary target of such comments, going back to his rookie season, has been fourth-year inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who because of his truly exceptional speed and the frequency with which he has gotten injured, has been regularly targeted by armchair general managers for a shift to the safety position.
Well, for those who still believe that is not only a good idea but one that could possibly happen, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not going to happen. Yet there is one inside linebacker in the AFC North that actually wants to play safety.
That is, at least, according to his defensive coordinator. Speaking back in June to the media, Gregg Williams said that Jamie Collins is “begging me to play safety”, according to an article posted recently on the team’s website that articulated the diversity of the former Patriots linebacker’s skill set.
Now, his case is actually a bit different because he actually played safety early on in his college career. His defensive coordinator also notes that he even played quarterback in high school. New England already moved him around the field at times while he was there, and Williams is known for being receptive to utilizing versatility as well.
“There’s lots of things about his versatility that it’s gonna be fun and challenging to find spots to cut him loose”, the Browns’ defensive coordinator said during his first season with the team. And Collins will not be the only versatile piece, of course, with Jabrill Peppers having been drafted in the first round.
In fact, Williams said that everybody on his defense is going to be asked to learn two positions, which is not necessarily a leap when you consider that he intends to employ a hybrid defense this season that utilizes concepts of both 3-4 and 4-3 traditional defensive fronts, so an outside linebacker can also be a defensive end.
You can probably bet that Collins is going to see a diversity of roles over the course of the season simply because he is that talented and that willing to do so, and because the Browns can use that sort of talent on a still deficient roster.
Frankly, watching Collins in his first full season with the Browns will be one of the most interesting things to follow about Cleveland this season, in a year in which they have made a number of significant and high-profile changes. He is just an exciting player to watch.