Some have tried to label Landon Collins as a box safety - and that is just not true. Over his four year career, the former Alabama All-American and NFL All-Pro has shown to be one of the most versatile and impactful safeties in the entire league.
Stats certainly don’t tell the whole story, and when you look at just those, you see his first three years in the league where he had over 100 tackles (he would have had over 100 in 2018 if not for injury) and think “Box Safety”. But that description doesn’t come close to doing Landon Collins justice!
In a January 1st, 2015 piece I wrote on Collins which you can read here. I had this to say about him:
It’s this versatility that I wrote about back in 2015 that I would like to highlight here...
Against the run:
Here you see Landon Collins in the box as the third LBer. He reads his keys, protects against the cut-back, and shoots the gap for the tackle. pic.twitter.com/OZSi2wASNu— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Here Collins sets the edge against the run. He fires his hands into the blockers chest keeping him away from his body, finds the football and makes the play for no gain. pic.twitter.com/0SxHDGLcnj— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Watch how quickly Collins recognizes the play and gets downhill to make an excellent tackle. pic.twitter.com/m00B4sWOh2— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Amazing play here by Landon Collins off the edge! pic.twitter.com/C6UXms0zP2— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Collins playing down in the box as an edge defender. Sees the run, and shoots inside the blocker to make a play for no gain. pic.twitter.com/BL2oXHZkCV— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
As a blitzer:
Collins comes on a blitz to get the sack on Wentz. pic.twitter.com/f6AnbgwETQ— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Man-over look here by the Giants. Collins has back out to his side, but gets depth here to help with the motion man threatening the seam. Bortles checks down to the TE who releases out of the backfield and Landon makes the sure tackle. pic.twitter.com/YVA61rqkWv— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Collins has outstanding coverage here running step for step with the right end. pic.twitter.com/BhD2ucswuM— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Collins playing here in a two-high zone. Sees the flexed tight end come free on the in-breaking route, and fires up to make the big hit which jars the ball loose for an incomplete pass. pic.twitter.com/bDLPDRvxAr— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Collins has back out of the backfield to the right side of the Skins formation here. Cousins looks that way but checks it short instead to Crowder. Collins recognizes the quick pass, re-directs and comes back to make the play. pic.twitter.com/63niizgJLk— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
3rd and 2, Collins is rolled up in underneath coverage. Cousins has no wear to go with the ball and checks it down to Paul in the left flat. He breaks a tackle and looks as though he may get the 1st down but Collins flies in to stop him short. Great play here. pic.twitter.com/29ngCMPLaQ— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Collins shows two-deep pre-snap, but creeps up in an underneath robber roll at the snap of the ball. Smith checks down to the RB in the flat, and Collins comes up to absolutely stone him! pic.twitter.com/PtljkHRjxG— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Quick screen here to Hill. Collins sniffs it out and makes the tackle for a loss. pic.twitter.com/ShA05FH6Gk— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
Pretty crazy play here...but Landon Collins, playing as a two-deep safety, actually takes away two routes here, finally ending the play with a great diving interception! pic.twitter.com/sLDHLoyfN2— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) March 13, 2019
I created the videos above to show Collins being put into various situations and how he’s used all over the defense during his stint with the Giants. These are all taken from NFL coaches film, and span the previous four seasons. These were not from some highlight video posted on YouTube.
What I see from Collins is a versatile safety who plays nearly flawless regardless of where he asked to line up and the responsibilities he’s give on a certain play.
In the run game, I see a tenacious, sound tackler, with the ability to play through traffic, find the football, and make plays. He’s essentially like an extra linebacker out there.
When asked to blitz, he disguises it well, and gets to the quarterback or ball carrier in a hurry. When he arrives, the results tend to be very positive.
In coverage, Collins has a lot to like. He wasn’t used much by the Giants as a single-high safety, but that’s probably due more to just how versatile he really is, than any limitations to his game. He was timed in the low 4.5’s at the combine at nearly 230 pounds, and recorded a 35 inch vertical. In on-field drills he showed loose hips, a great back-pedal, and ability to quickly transition out of breaks. This was all evident on the film I watched of Collins over the last four years as well.
The first thing that stood out with him in coverage is his great awareness. Second was his ability to recognize and break on routes - whether as part of a tandem in a two-high look, or in underneath zone. Finally, is his ability to run with tight ends and backs in man coverage. He plays a great hip-trail technique, and turns his head to mirror the receivers at the appropriate time in coverage.
Truthfully, I believe Landon Collins is the most versatile safety in the entire NFL, and will be an immediate impact player for the Redskins wherever they choose to line him up for years to come.
...so buckle up boys and girls - we just landed a good one in DC!