ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his second mock draft of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft Wednesday morning and this time around he has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Alabama safety Landon Collins with the 22nd overall pick.
In my previous mock, I had Collins going at No. 7 overall to the Bears. My evaluation of him hasn’t changed at all. But in most cases when you’re drafting in Round 1, you’re looking for a player who can come in and contribute, if not start, pretty early, so players rise and fall all the time on fit. Even if the Steelers decide to bring back the future that is Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu, they certainly need to prepare for life without him. Collins would be a good replacement as a highly versatile safety who can make plays at the line of scrimmage and will cover. He brings a ton of experience, and the expectation is that he’ll be able to help a defense right away. That could be exactly what Pittsburgh needs, which could make him a great value here.
While Collins is certainly a solid safety prospect that could potentially play both the strong and free spots in the Steelers secondary, the likelihood that he would see the field as a rookie would be very slim if drafted by Pittsburgh. Even though there’s a good chance that veteran Troy Polamalu, the last safety drafted by the Steelers in the first round, might be a salary cap casualty in a few weeks, one would think that Shamarko Thomas would be ready to step in immediately to fill that void. The Steelers have also not given any indication that they will be parting ways with free safety Mike Mitchell after just one season.
While the Steelers certainly could address the safety position at some point during the 2015 draft, it really is tough to envision a first round selection being dedicated to it.
In case you’re curious, in Kiper’s first mock draft of 2015 he had Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson as the Steelers first round selection. In Wednesday’s mock Kiper no longer has Johnson going in the first round.
We have already posted a breakdown of Collins and you can read that right here. In addition, below is Kiper’s extended thoughts of Collins.