The NFL Draft is six weeks away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.
40 time: 4.53 sec.
What they’re saying:
Strengths: Well-built athlete with light feet and fluid hips to change direction quickly. Forceful and reliable open-field tackler who often rips at the ball aggressively as he's taking opponents to the ground. Better working downhill when he can attack the action, but has shown improvement in pass coverage, learning from past mistakes and improving his awareness in the deep half of the field.
Weaknesses: Trusts his eyes and can be deceived with good play-action or by savvy quarterbacks who will look one way and fire the other. Much more effective coming downhill in run support or protecting the middle on crossing routes than with his back turned to the quarterback. Possesses good but not elite speed and doesn't show the burst to recover when beaten initially.
How he fits the Redskins: Earlier this week I wrote about West Virginia WR Kevin White and said that he could be the big, fast, physical receiver the Redskins haven’t had in, well, forever. Landon Collins could be the smart, physical, aggressive strong safety the Redskins haven’t had in a long time, except for brief stretches when LaRon Landry was healthy. He has the potential to be a very good one.
This is a team that has been unable and/or unwilling to find a permanent, quality solution at either free or strong safety. Certainly the untimely death Sean Taylor was something that couldn’t be anticipated. But seven offseasons have passed since then and the Redskins haven’t come close to replacing Taylor and haven’t found a solid strong safety either.
This is not to say that Collins will be as good a strong safety as Taylor was a free safety. But he could be very good and, barring misfortune, he could be around for a very long time.
Potential issues: He’s a question mark in coverage and he has some technique issues to clean up (as does virtually every player coming out of college). And although he’s not small by any means, Scot McCloughan likely would want a bigger strong safety manning the middle of the field for the better part of the next decade.
But the big issue with Collins is if the Redskins can will the trigger on drafting him.
Under the philosophy of drafting the best available player, which is what Scot McCloughan espouses, it doesn’t look like they will be in a position to take him. Although Collins is a quality prospect, there are other quality prospects at positions of higher value that are likely to be graded higher than Collins.
Suppose the Redskins trade back? They might be able to justify taking him somewhere in the 10-15 range. But he might not make it out of the back end of the top 10, given the shortage of quality safeties both in the draft and currently in the league.
Bottom line: A reach at five and gone at a realistic trade back landing spot. That is the tweener status that is likely to have Collins lining up for a team other than the Redskins this fall.
It should be noted that you never know what will happen in a draft that is six weeks away. Certainly it’s worth monitoring, as it remains unlikely.
In his own words:
Collins on Taylor, who Collins starting watching when Taylor was still in high school.
"I idolized Sean Taylor for his physical play, his passion for the game, you could see it every time he touched the field . . . and I like being physical in the box . . . I've watched YouTubes on him, I've watched everything -- hour-long videos on him, I watched a 30 for 30.”
Previously in Draft Countdown: