NFL Draft: Landon Collins is Perfect Fit for Pittsburgh Steelers


Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins runs in a workout drill during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Game changer: an athlete who can completely alter the course and outcome of a game for his or her team.

In any draft process, no matter the sport, you will have a small percentage of players who are given this label.  It is no different in this year’s NFL Draft. Countless scouts and coaches are enamored with the game changers like USC Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams and Alabama Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

Like Williams and teammate Cooper, Alabama Safety Landon Collins also falls under the category of game changer.  Collins is an aggressive, playmaking safety who is not afraid to lay the wood.

When the draft process began back in January, Collins was projected to be a top ten pick and be the first defensive back off the board. But as the months passed, Collins began to slip from his original projection, mainly due to questions with his pass coverage.

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Even with those questions, teams are still raving about the former All-American. One of those teams is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who brought Collins in for a visit last week.

With uncertainty at the safety position with Troy Polamalu now retired, it comes as no surprise for Steelers to visit with one of the top safeties in the draft. It is important to note, however, that Collins was the only safety the Steelers hosted at their facilities.

From a Steelers perspective, they should be drooling over Collins.

His instinctive and playmaking ability matched with his aggressiveness against the run was evident throughout his career at Alabama. And though it is a bit of a stretch to compare a prospect to a future hall of famer, Collins does share a lot of similarities with Polamalu.

When you put on the tape of Collins, you immediately see why he compares to Troy. Wherever the football is, Collins is there with authority. When the Crimson Tide needed a big play, Collins would deliver.

It is hard for NFL team to replace a legendary player at any position, especially with someone straight out of college.   With Collins, you are not only replacing Polamalu, but you are replacing him with a player who plays with the same aggressive, instinctive and playmaking ability.

Does this make Collins a sure bet to be picked by the Steelers at 22?

The short answer is no. Some mock drafts have the Steelers selecting Nebraska Outside Linebacker Randy Gregory with their first pick. Like Collins, Gregory has rapidly fallen down draft boards since starting out as the No. 1 available outside linebacker.

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  • But unlike Collins, Gregory’s stock has fallen due to a positive drug test at the NFL Combine for marijuana. But as with the selection of Jarvis Jones in 2013, the Steelers do not shy away from selecting top pass rushing talent with red flags.

    However, with Jones looking more like a bust than a boom, the Steelers might be wary to select a player like Gregory. Either way, the Steelers will select a pass rusher at some point in the first four rounds of the draft if they decide to pass on Gregory.

    If the Steelers do select Collins, you have in the makings of what could be a beautiful marriage between the two sides. He can and will become the new face of the Steelers secondary if selected at 22.

    And it won’t take long for Steeler fans everywhere fall in love with this former national champion from Alabama, thanks to those similarities with Polamalu.

    When Rod Woodson departed from the Steelers after the 1996 season, it took almost a decade for the team to find a safety that could fill the void left by the hall of famer. Nearly two decades later, the Steelers must replace another legend at safety.

    Though Collins is not a sure bet to succeed in the NFL, he has the potential to become a standout safety in this league, though it will be no easy task to replace a legend like Polamalu. If Collins plays with the same fire and passion on Sundays as he did on Saturdays, he can and will make a lasting impact for the Steelers.

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