As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done in the past, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
Our first safety prospect of this series. Alabama’s Landon Collins.
#26 – Landon Collins/SS 6’0 222
– Near ideal size, bulk for the position
– Extremely reliable tackler
– Strong, fearless, seeks contact
– Powerful tackler, strong hands, and can bring runners down in open field
– Takes good angles to the football in both phases
– Great closing speed, terrific alley defender capable of filling running lanes
– Shows impressive ball skills for the position
– Soft hands who can make difficult catches, threat post-interception
– Quick feet
– Experience playing at every level on defense
– Special teams maven, even starting in 2014
– NFL type defense, centered around pattern reading
– Played against top flight competition
– Very productive 2014 season
– Straight line speed isn’t anything special, won’t time particularly well
– Needs to get a little lower in his pedal, will play too tall
– Occasional lack of awareness
– Some stiffness in his hips
– Limited starting experience
– 2014: 103 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 1 FF
– 2014 1st Team All-SEC
– Five career interceptions
– Three career forced fumbles
– 20 career starts at safety, 2014 only season he entered as the starter
– 20 special teams tackles in 2012 and 2013 combined
– Five-star recruit out of high school, top three safety by virtually every publication
– Star running back and safety in high school
– Rushed for 1218 yards and 21 TDs as a senior, averaged 13.7 YPC
– Displaced for three months because of Hurricane Katrina
– Louisiana native, made unpopular decision to choose Alabama over LSU
Collins shows that rare ability to knock your block off against the run and make a snapshot-worthy interception in the same game. A lot of players can do one of those things. Few can do both.
He’s relentless in the run game. Body type and mentality makes him physical. Love him as an alley defender, a key role as a strong safety. The force player sets the edge, the alley defender rallies to the lane to fill and make the tackle.
Which is what you see here.
And similarly, here. Though Collins is filling backside, it’s an even more impressive tackle.
And yes, that is All-22 game tape from 2014. This is a better day than when mom bought that family size bag of Cheetos. Life is good.
Fantastic open field tackler. Maybe missed one tackle in the three games I watched. And when I talk about him having “strong hands,” I use it in reference to plays like this below. Receiver tries changing directions and Collins is able to throw out an arm and trip him up.
He has that relentless attitude that is required to play safety. First play against LSU, gets cut to the ground, immediately gets back up, and helps make the tackle along the sideline.
I will be interested in how Collins times. I didn’t see top end straight line speed on tape, though maybe it had to do with the heightened competition and speed of everyone else, that made Collins’ speed look average. If his biography is to be believed, he timed in the high 4.3’s in high school.
Regardless of that speed, it’s his angles to the ball that make him effective. Steelers’ fans know all too well about safeties and poor angles. Any lack of speed is made up by taking the right path. In both phases of the game.
In the pass, shows a great angle and close to meet the receiver at the catch point. Receiver holds on but it’s still a big hit by Collins. And to read the QB, not the route, and take a perfect path to the receiver across the hash down the seam? That’s beautiful.
Playing Nick Saban’s classic Robber technique, Collins reads the eyes of the QB which take him to the football. Finishes it with a pretty one-handed interception and a nice return.
And love his experience on special teams. How he made his name before he became a starter on defense and carried that role over into 2014. Starting gunner and lined up as L2 on kick coverage.
Few negatives to his game and none worth using a GIF over. Collins is a complete player.
2015 will likely be Shamarko Thomas’ year to show he can be a starter. It makes sense after waiting for two seasons and I’ve even admitted that is probably how it should – and will – work.
But to pull a Matthew Marczi and play Devil’s Advocate, there’s no denying the NFL is a fickle business. Three years is an eternity in this league and the decisions and feelings from then don’t always have a bearing now. Even for a team with such a consistent model like the Steelers. It may be “fair” to give Thomas his chance but fairness is a concept that doesn’t exist in the NFL. Not everyone gets a fair shake. It’s not improbable that if the team likes Collins’ enough, they could decide to pull the trigger.
Could Collins start from Day One? The one thing he has going for him is playing in Alabama’s system. Saban pattern reads as much as anyone in the NFL, an advanced coverage scheme that bases its coverage off the routes (patterns) of the receivers.
We can’t lose sight of the talent first mantra almost every team subscribes to. And should Collins be sitting on the board at 22, something that is admittedly unlikely to happen, the Steelers would probably be forced to go against that philosophy if they passed on him.
Projection: Top Ten
Games Watched: vs Florida, at LSU, vs Mississippi St
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