Dallas Cowboys Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Landon Collins

Chris Imperiale@@Bleacher_ImpCorrespondent IApril 30, 2015

Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) goes through drills during NCAA college football practice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Alabama is scheduled to play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

In just a few hours, the 2015 NFL draft will commence, and thousands of questions will be answered. Finally there will be less speculation and actual draft picks to discuss.

Although the Cowboys will have to wait quite a bit for pick No. 27 to be on the clock, there are several players to keep an eye on during the first round. Obviously the two marquee running backs (Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon) are on everyone’s radar, but there are several other defensive options who could suit Dallas even better.

Many mock drafts have the Cowboys grabbing a cornerback or someone along the defensive front. These positions are definitely a need, however, there is a player whose name isn’t mentioned often enough.

Alabama safety Landon Collins is a good football player and will help whichever team drafts him Thursday night.

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

As mentioned, safety might not be the team’s biggest need, but it is without a doubt a position that could use an upgrade. J.J. Wilcox has shown quality improvement throughout his first few seasons, although he doesn’t seem to be a player who can take his game to the elite level.

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Collins is a game-changer, and he showed this consistently throughout his time in Tuscaloosa. Last year, he was voted unanimous first-team All-American and led the Crimson Tide in tackles and interceptions.

The 6’0”, 228-pound Collins has played both safety positions and has even dabbled at cornerback. He’s a physical player who always finds himself around the ball. His skills against the run are noticeable. He is aggressive at attacking downhill and finishes plays with solid tackling.

Even though people might consider him better against the run, he’s capable in coverage too. Despite his thick build, he’s got smooth feet that allow him to cover the slot and close in on the ball while in zone. Collins tracks the ball particularly well and shows his athleticism when leaping.

His two main weaknesses are his speed and hands. His 4.53 40-yard dash time was among the best times for his position at the combine, but on the field, he’s been beaten deep more than once. Along with his lack of recovery speed, his hands are suspect. This part of his game shows why he plays on the defensive side of the ball.

Collins is projected to be a first-rounder, but it’s nearly impossible to tell where he might land. If the Cowboys are lucky enough for him to still be available at No. 27, he would be a great selection, adding a much-needed playmaker to the secondary.