The Giants drafted Alabama safety Landon Collins with the first pick of the second round in the 2015 NFL Draft. There are some legitimate reasons to think he has the potential to be one of the top IDP defensive backs this season.
The College Comparables
To begin, I pulled a set of college seasons similar to Collins’ final year at Alabama.
That’s an admittedly hand-picked set of comparables; there are many other players with similar seasons who didn’t accomplish anything in the NFL. But it demonstrates the potential of a player with Collins’ history of production. The main variable that distinguishes these players, and Collins, from the also-rans is draft pedigree.
The Draft Doppelgangers
Here’s a look at at all the 200+ pound safeties drafted within 10 picks of Collins, since 2006.
But he’s also the heaviest safety listed. When weight is factored in, he has one of the top speed scores in the group. I’m not so much saying that speed score is an important metric for strong safeties, as I am saying that in the context of his size, his speed is actually above average. Collins compares well athletically to this cohort, which in turn has been largely successful in the NFL.
Can You Start Today?
So Collins has good college and draft comparables. But perhaps the biggest thing he has going for him is opportunity. The Giants are missing a total of 2188 plays from 2014 at the safety position. That’s…a lot of plays to fill.
To add to that extreme level of opportunity, the rest of the Giants’ safety corps is uninspiring, to say the least. It includes a second year player who ran a 4.71 40-yard dash and played just 32 defensive snaps last season, a fifth round tweener fully expected to be a role player, a converted corner recovering from microfracture surgery, another converted corner who only managed to play 292 defensive snaps last year, and a third-year player who’s appeared in a total of 10 games and recorded no defensive stats last season. So even if Collins struggles, it will be extremely difficult for the Giants to take him off the field, given the lack of talent and depth behind him.
Departed S Antrel Rolle was a top-20 IDP DB last season. That should be Collins’ floor. Combine his strong history of production and draft status with plenty of available playing time and weak competition, and a DB1 finish seems likely. In tackle heavy formats, he could contend for the top finish overall.