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Dave Merritt: Landon Collins Has “So Much Room To Grow”

Just how good can the Giants’ safeties be in 2017?

NFL: Pro Bowl Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made their position coaches available to the media Wednesday morning. With the players off, the timing is a bit odd, but any chance to pick the coaches’ brains is a good one.

One of those coaches who was made available was secondary/safeties coach Dave Merritt. Merritt coaches arguably the most exciting position group on the Giants’ roster, with young players like Landon Collins, Andrew Adams, and Nat Berhe playing well last year.

Unsurprisingly, Merritt was asked about those young safeties, particularly if they can be even better than what we’ve seen.

On Landon Collins ...

I do [believe he can make another jump in year 3]. One of my family members was asking me this about Landon and what a terrific year he had last year. Don’t get me wrong, he played out of this world, but I think there is so much room for Landon to improve mentally as well as understanding situational football and technique. Do I see him continuing to make that jump? Yes. As far as the interceptions and some of the wow plays he made last year, I hope that continues, I really do. There were a couple of times where that ball found him versus him going and finding the ball. He made the plays last year that he dropped his rookie year. Hopefully, this upcoming year he will continue to make those plays if he’s in the area. The one pick that he made against Cincinnati down the middle of the field was fantastic. He was playing the half field and he came over the top of the tight end. That was an excellent play.

I hope to see him continue to make plays like that.

He has room to grow. I say that in a sense because with this defense, understanding not only his position but understanding how far he could cheat, how far he could take a disguise, that’s part of the growth and some of the things that I’m talking about. He has to continue to learn this defense. We have this kid playing a lot of positions. It’s going to be something that he makes sure he puts his nose in the playbook and understands the pieces of the puzzle and understanding who is around him on the field. That’s how he is going to continue to grow.

Merritt added that on a scale of 1 to 10, Collins was consistently a “7” in 2016, but believes he can consistently be an 8 12 or 9 in 2017.

On Darian Thompson ...

He [Darian Thompson] looks good. The fact that he’s coming off a leg injury. The one day he complained that it was sore, two weeks ago. Since then, he looks good. He’s transitioning. I see him actually bursting and coming in and out of his transition. He’s doing a good job. There is still some ways to go and hopefully training camp we will be able to really test that foot. Right now, he’s going through all the individual drills. I’m happy and excited.

I think they [Thompson and Collins] can be dynamic, I really do. Darian is a very cerebral guy. He is very smart and he understands the calls as well as Landon. To have two smart guys back there and to be able to feed off of one another, it’s going to be a good mixture between Darian, Andrew and Landon of course. Darian is a very smart guy and that’s what we knew about him coming out of college. He had the mental capacity to learn Spags’ defense and do things we’re asking him to do. It’ll be pretty exciting for sure.

On the competition between Thompson and Andrew Adams ...

I’m going to be honest with you, you can sit here right now and say yes [that Thompson will step back in as a starter], but I can’t sit here and take away from what Andrew Adams has done. I think they’re all competing for a starting job. That second safety has been illusive for us. To have two guys that can actually step in there and actually hold down the position. Hopefully we will find that solid piece this year but we need four good guys. If we can get four good guys, it’s going to be great.