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Lions' Jamie Collins ranked among NFL's top 10 linebackers for 2020

The Detroit News

When the Lions picked up some needed parts in free agency, they also snagged one of the best off-ball linebackers in the entire league.

At least, that’s according to ESPN, which continued its rankings of top players at each position on Wednesday and had Jamie Collins slotted at No. 8.

Jamie Collins signed a three-year contract with the Lions this offseason.

To develop its rankings, ESPN polled more than 50 NFL executives, coaches, scouts and players.

One NFL coordinator had Collins ranked as the second-best linebacker in the league, saying: “He can cover running backs, good blitzer, lines up as edge rusher or off the ball. Very instinctive, good football intelligence and makes plays.”

However, not everyone shared the same assessment and Collins, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Lions in March, wasn’t on everybody’s ballot.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote that the key to Collins’ productiveness depends on how he is deployed. Fowler referenced how coaches thought Collins was misused as an edge rusher in Cleveland as opposed to patrolling the middle like he did in New England.

More: Lions sign first-round cornerback Jeff Okudah

Last season with the Patriots, Collins set career highs with seven sacks, seven passes defensed and three interceptions in 16 games. In his three years with the Browns, Collins tallied seven sacks, seven passes defensed and two interceptions over 30 contests.

"There's no one like him," a veteran NFL offensive assistant coach said. "If you use him to attack the underneath stuff and at the line of scrimmage like Bill (Belichick) did, he's top five."

Also making the list as an honorable mention was former Michigan Wolverine Devin Bush, who is entering his second season with the Steelers. Bush recorded 109 tackles as a rookie with the Steelers.

"This guy is coming for the list next year,” one AFC executive said. “He's loaded with talent, he's just still learning.”

Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David and Minnesota’s Eric Kendricks were the top three on ESPN’s list.