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One of the shallowest positions in this year’s draft is at safety.  My top player is Alabama’s Landon Collins who might be the only one taken within the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, and might be landoncthe only safety worth drafting for your dynasty teams.  I reviewed three of his games against Florida, Mississippi State, and Auburn to get a handle of the skills and attributes he brings to the next level.  Here are my thoughts:

S Landon Collins, Alabama, 6’ 228 lbs.

Cons: At his current weight of 228 pounds, he might be a little too bulky and muscle-bound to play either safety position in the NFL.  Collins will most likely play the strong safety position due to his physical style of play.  The defender gets very hands in pass coverage and can over-react to fakes on occasion.  He does make quite a few tackles on his back.  While it is great that he continues to play even when on the ground, Collins needs to keep better balance and shed blockers a bit quicker to get to the ball carrier.

Pros: This physical safety loves to hit people, especially with his shoulder pads.  He looks a bit like the former He-Man lackey “Ram-Man” laying anyone out with the pigskin. Collins has quick feet, excellent vision, and uses good anticipation of where the ball is going. The defender plays the run as well as he plays the pass, which is rare in safeties these days.  He was effective on run blitzes, getting to the runner before he crossed the line of scrimmage.  Once a ball carrier gets stood up, Collins loves to rip the ball out and recover it.  This playmaker is a great open field tackler, who makes sure the offensive player absorbs the force of a car crash on their body to remember for the next time.

Against the pass, Collins likes to read the quarterback’s eyes and gambles by jumping routes and sometimes out-leaps the receivers getting to the pigskin. He has great closing speed and shows a lot of fluidity.  There are many defenders who play the ball in the air better than him.  Collins moves well laterally and runs backwards almost as fast as he does forwards.  He can be used to rush the passer and takes good angles to get there in a hurry.  Alabama would sometimes line him up in a hybrid linebacker/safety spot, where he was quite effective.

Overall thoughts:  When I watched Collins, I got reminded of Arizona hybrid defender Deone Bucannon.  They both play with physicality, but can line up at linebacker, free or strong safety.  If you need to draft a defensive back in your rookie draft, make sure it is Landon Collins.

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