Going into his fourth year, New York Giants safety Landon Collins has emerged as one of the best defenders in the NFL.
He bounced back from a disappointing rookie campaign with a historic sophomore campaign, which he followed up with a strong third season despite playing through injury on a broken and fractured defense.
Pro Football Focus decided to take a look at the various coverage schemes, and point out a prototypical player for each scheme. Collins was named as the prototype “2-high” safety:
TWO-HIGH SAFETY – LANDON COLLINS
The main difference between the single-high safety and the two-high safety is that the needed athleticism, speed and range isn’t nearly as significant for the two-high safety. The two-high safety can get away with a lesser athletic profile but still needs to display high-level instincts, discipline and the ability to read his keys correctly while also reacting quickly. Reading the quarterback’s eyes and recognizing when danger comes to his zone is vital as opposed to allowing the play unfold in front of him. Needing to play half the field versus the full field allows for less athleticism but doesn’t allow for slow recognition and reaction of the play.
Though his rookie season was one to forget, Landon Collins has been fantastic in this role for the New York Giants the past two seasons. Collins doesn’t have the elite athleticism you look for in the single-high safety but he brings those high-level instincts and the ability to shut down a deep half of the field. Collins dominated in his one season of college grading and though it took a year to acclimate to NFL speed and play, has also done so in the NFL.
It is interesting that they consider Collins to be a “2-high” safety.
While he has certainly proven himself capable of playing in a deep half, he didn’t truly come into his own until the Giants regularly moved him closer to the line of scrimmage in his second season.
(Note: this also coincided with Collins dropping about 15 pounds)
PFF named Kam Chancellor their prototype “Big Nickel/Dime Linebacker,” citing his ability to play shallow coverage while also stopping the run.
Separately, as a part of their Top-50 players list, PFF credits Collins with 83 defensive stops over the 2016 and 2017 seasons — more than a third more than the next safety’s total — as well as the most tackles of any safety since entering the league in 2015. In coverage he has the second most passes defensed of any safety since entering the league.
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Collins might just be the prototype for both positions — the deep half of a Cover-2 shell or down by the line of scrimmage as a strong safety in a Cover 1 (single high safety) or Cover 3 (3 deep zone) coverage.