The Patriots did not need their full staff of college and pro scouts to help them decide on their first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Bill Belichick scouted the player himself.

After trading away their first-round choice Thursday night, New England used one of the picks it obtained from Minnesota to select a pass rusher with their first pick in the second round Friday night. He is Jamie Collins from Southern Mississippi, a player who was a star quarterback in high school, began his college career as a safety, moved to linebacker and finally to defensive end in his senior year.

He was scouted personally by Belichick in Hattiesburg, Miss., in March, a day in which Collins not only worked out for the coach but also spent time watching film with him.

“He was a great guy,” Collins said of Belichick.

The Pats stayed with Conference USA for its second choice, taking wide receiver Aaron Dobson with the 59th choice, seven picks after Collins. Dobson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, has been called the best receiver out of Marshall since Randy Moss.

In the third round, it was an all-Rutgers defensive back show for the Pats. They took cornerback, Logan Ryan, the guy who took Devin McCourty’s job for the Scarlet Knights, with the 83rd pick (also obtained from Minnesota) and ended the night by selecting another Scarlet Knight, safety Duron Harmon.

“I think we were able to improve our team tonight,” said Pats coach Bill Belichick, who was wearing a Watertown Police Department sweatshirt with a Patriots logo. “We got good value for our picks, good players that have a lot going for them.”

The Pats continued their of taking players with an unusual history with their first selection.
Collins was a high school quarterback. He led his Franklin County, Miss., team to the state championship in both his junior and senior seasons. He threw for 26 touchdowns and just over 2,000 yards in his senior year.

Once he arrived at Southern Miss the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder (he was 212 pounds as a freshman) was switched to defense. He had experience at both safety and linebacker before putting his hand in the dirt as a defensive end in his senior season. He eventually became the leading tackler for his team at linebacker. He led the Golden Eagles, who went 0-12, in tackles this past season, with 92 tackles. That included 20 tackles for losses, 10 of those sacks.

A scouting report on NFL.com calls him one of the new style pass rushers becoming prevalent in the league.

He “presents a long, lean frame that NFL teams look for in a stand-up pass rusher. Quick feet and long strides help him close on quarterbacks, move down the line to crash on runs, as well as give him the short-area agility to move in coverage with slot receivers for short periods despite his height and length,” the scouting report reads.