The New York Giants needed safety help entering the 2015 season. They made a dramatic move up in the 2015 NFL Draft to get it, making a draft-day trade to move up and select Landon Collins of Alabama. Let's take a look at Collins today as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the team's 90-man roster heading into training camp.
2014 Season in Review
Collins made 103 combined tackles for Alabama, 4.5 for loss, had three interceptions, seven passes defensed and a forced fumble as the Crimson Tide reached the first-ever College Football Playoff. He earned first-team All-SEC honors.
2015 Season Outlook
Expect Collins to be one of the two starters in the Giants revamped safety corps. What will his precise role be? Will he be a "box" safety, a term Collins has obvious disdain for? Will he be a free safety? Best guess is that he will play both roles as the Giants move their safeties around.
"I played in the box at Alabama, but I was a safety. It was not an in the box safety. I played free, strong and played our money position, which was our fifth [defensive back] on the field. [I] was not just an in the box safety," Collins said after he was drafted. "Teams said I played a lot in the box, but once they saw me play this past year in the deep middle and then they had total confidence in me."
Head coach Tom Coughlin said he saw enough during rookie mini-camp to believe Collins should not be pigeon-holed into a "box" role.
"He can play in the middle of the field," Coughlin said. "He can play in the deep half as well as come down and be a physical force in the tackle box."
In his 2015 NFL Draft Guide, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports referred to Collins as a "versatile chess piece" for Alabama, which he also figures to be for the Giants, said Collins is "much better vs. the run than in pass coverage right now."
During Wednesday's OTA practice Collins lined up as one of the two starting safeties alongside Cooper Taylor. Nat Berhe sat out with a calf injury. Watching both the offense vs. defense and the position drills it was obvious that Collins is the smoothest and most natural safety the Giants have in terms of his movement skills.
Whatever the role, Collins almost certainly will be playing full-time for the Giants in 2015. Considering the porous nature of the play at the position for the Giants in 2014, and the price the Giants paid in terms of draft picks to move up and select Collins, the Giants will be expecting him to be a key part of improving the quality of play at that position.