Steelers Draft: Is Landon Collins Heir to the Safety Position?


The chapter in the career of another great Pittsburgh Steeler has finally come to an end. On Friday, it was announced that after twelve seasons, Troy Polamalu would be retiring from the game of football.

We all knew that it would happen eventually, but now that it is finally said and done many are finding ways to cope. Taking to social media to post their fondest memories of the daredevil safety and his antics. As we look to the past to help with the sting of such a loss, we must look ahead into the future, as well.

The Steelers’ options at safety are limited. Many believe that Shamarko Thomas is in line to succeed Polamalu at the Strong Safety position, but there are just as many that hold reservations that the third year defensive back from Syracuse isn’t not ready for such a task.

The Steelers need answers relatively quick at the position. They need a player, like Polamalu, that can revolutionize the position and be a dominant force in their backfield for the next decade. They can find such a player in the 2015 NFL draft.

There is no replacing Troy Polamalu, but the Pittsburgh Steelers would do well to select Alabama safety Landon Collins as their first overall selection in this year. This young athlete is a perfect example of what the Steelers look for in a future member of their long list of talented safeties.

Hard hitting tackle ability, amazing speed and exceptional ball hawking skills. These traits will help him excel on any team in the NFL, but could be best utilized by the Steelers with all their needs in the secondary.

If you need a personal testimony to Collins’ hitting ability, ask West Virginia University wide receiver Jordan Thompson. On more than one occasion in 2014’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game he felt the devastating impact of being knocked to the ground.

Among the many things Polamalu was known for, his speed was always in discussion. If you watch Collins, who ran a 4.53 in the 40 yard dash, you can see his dangerous speed that allows him to stay in stride with opposing receivers, or to quickly wrap up running backs in his opponent’s backfield.

It could be seen that Polamalu had lost a step or two in his final season in Pittsburgh, which had taken away a dangerous threat in the Steelers’ secondary. Insert a player such as Collins, and offenses will once again have to accommodate for a threatening safety in their schemes.

Along with tackling ability and speed, Collins has a natural ability for finding the football. He plays close to the line of scrimmage (like a certain former Steelers safety) and always finds his man. This is one of the main reasons why he led Alabama in tackles last season.

When defending, be plays opposing receivers aggressively, but not as where to draw a penalty. His height would allow him to match up well with some of the more taller receivers in the league, something that is increasingly becoming an issue for secondaries.

Feb 23, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins runs the 40 yard dash during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If the Steelers could have Collins fall to them at the 22nd overall position, it would be fortune favoring them. They usually get away with talented players falling to their draft spot, but, if they covet Collins, they may have to move up in the draft.

Ironically, the last time the Steelers moved up in the draft was to select Polamalu. They made a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs that would move them up eleven spots in order to select the safety. They would definitely not be disappointed with their decision.

With the need for quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker prominent for other teams, Collins is expected to fall into the bottom half of the first round, which would not require the Steelers to move up as far as they did in 2003 if they were in a similar situation this year.

Experts are mocking him to the Philadelphia Eagles at the 20th overall selection, so it may only require them to move up three or four spots in order to secure him.

Filling the void of superstar athletes is often a difficult task. It took the Steelers twenty years to find a quarterback they could bring the Lombardi trophy back to Pittsburgh after the retirement of Terry Bradshaw in 1984.

Landon Collins is no Troy Polamalu by any means, but he doesn’t have to be. It is possible that in a decade’s time we very well could be lamenting over the retirement of Landon Collins’ service in the Black and Gold. Telling of his spectacular plays and his amazing athletic ability.

He has the ability to be a once in a lifetime player for any team in the National Football League. The Steelers know talent when they see it, and it could be Collins walking out onto that stage in Chicago to accept the first round pick jersey and hat coveted by so many aspiring athletes.

Next: Steelers Sign Will Allen

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