Jamie Collins and the second-year leap

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has long maintained that the offseason between a player's rookie and sophomore season is among the most critical of his career.

We've seen Patriots make major strides from Year 1 to Year 2 of late, including defensive end Chandler Jones and running back Stevan Ridley.

Their progress puts players entering Year 2 in New England under the microscope; perhaps none more so than linebacker Jamie Collins, who made significant strides late last season.

Collins lands at No. 5 on NFL.com's Around the League blog in their "Making the Leap" series, a countdown of 25 players in total.

Gregg Rosenthal, who pens the piece, captures Collins' uniqueness succinctly in his lede:

"Jamie Collins is a cornerback trapped in a 250-pound body. While most linebackers are forced into pass coverage duties, Collins looks at home on an island."

As Rosenthal notes, Collins' role should blossom this season, as he played just 302 defensive snaps in 2013. With that number expected to increase dramatically, so too will expectations.

Just how high will expectations increase?

"Collins' ceiling would be to emerge as the AFC's answer to Lavonte David and Thomas Davis," Rosenthal writes. "In an era of multiple defenses and pass-catching tight ends, every team is looking for hybrids at linebacker. The Patriots found a good one."

Hard to argue with that assessment.