Philadelphia Eagles: Enough with Landon Collins, Already


With the 20th selection in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, The Philadelphia Eagles will select:

Landon Collins.

Or so says Mel Kiper. Todd McShay. Don Banks. Charles Davis. Lance Zeirlein. Charles Casserly.

The Eagles have a gaping hole at safety,  the experts say: Can’t argue with that.

Landon Collin is a safety, the experts say: I see no point of debate there.

And, for the experts… their work is done.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

Let’s evaluate that logic in the form of a little drama:

Person: ‘My car is out of fuel.’

Other person: ‘Hey. I just so happen to have a big canister of diesel.’

Person: ‘I need fuel. Diesel is fuel. This is a fortuitous event!’

Around this time of year, experts mock the draft. It’s what they do. But these experts are being tasked with a major undertaking: Try to fully understand the needs, schemes, front office personalities, and likely maneuvers of all 32 teams. And then do it again. And make it different this time. Because we’ve already seen your first crack at it.

There are pitfalls to this strategy.

Landon Collins to the Eagles is one of these pitfalls.

On paper, it makes so much sense. Well. Assuming you’re just looking at a tiny piece of paper that says, “Eagles’ Team Needs: Safety. Landon Collins, S, Alabama.”

But look at a bigger piece of paper? And the problem becomes clear.

Collins is an in-the-box safety. He is a traditional strong safety in the mold of, well, traditional strong safeties.

Let’s allow Chip Kelly to explain why that’s an issue.


“For us, our safety has to be able to be a good tackler, he’s got to be a great communicator and he also has to be able to cover one‑on‑one at certain times. He also has to be able to have great range and play in the middle of the field because our safeties are interchangeable; we don’t just have one safety who is a down safety and one safety who is a high safety, they have to be able to do both.”

Interchangeable is the key word. The Eagles like to be able to move safeties up and down without opponents knowing which one will be doing which thing on any particular play.

That’s the fuel the Eagles need.

Landon Collins is a down safety.

Dec 6, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) during the 2014 SEC Championship Game against the Missouri Tigers at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports.

He is noted for his aggressive, downhill style. Look up a scouting report. Any scouting report. And it will mention that Collins’ greatest weakness is in coverage.

Even better? Watch some tape. He gets beat. He gets beat for the very reason he’s a top-notch prospect: he’s aggressive. And plays moving downhill.

Eagles /


Collins is diesel.

Understand, please, that this is not a knock on Landon Collins. If he’s put in a friendly situation (one where he can be a strong safety/dime linebacker) he has every tool to succeed.

But he’s nothing like the safeties the Eagles describe. Nothing like Malcolm Jenkins: Whom the Eagles pursued hard in 2014 free agency… a converted corner who can be used in coverage seamlessly. Nothing like Devin McCourty: Whom the Eagles lobbied hard to pair with Jenkins in 2015 free agency… a converted corner who can be used in coverage seamlessly. Nothing like Jaylen Watkins: Whom the Eagles drafted as a corner out of Florida and are now allowing to compete for the starting safety role alongside Jenkins.

So listen, Charles Davis. And Todd McShay. Focus up, Mel Kiper. Charley Casserly. Eyes over here, Don Banks:

Landon Collins is a terrific ballplayer. He’s the best safety in the draft.

But it makes little sense to draft a player in the first round whose bread-and-butter is playing near the line of scrimmage and ask him to spend half of his time fading back into high coverages.

It makes even less sense to change the basic structure of your defense for Landon Collins when there are other holes that need filling and when there are better-fitting options at safety.

If you can’t find the premium octane fuel for your Ferrari… better to throw in a little regular unleaded (Jaylen Watkins, Earl Wolff, et al) than to blow the whole thing up with diesel.

And if metaphors aren’t your thing:

Landon Collins is a poor fit with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Next: Byron Jones: Future Eagle

More from NFL Spin Zone