The New York Giants traded up to the first pick in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the Tennessee Titans. With the pick, the Giants selected safety Landon Collins of the University of Alabama. To move up to the first spot, the Giants gave Tennessee their 2nd (#40 overall), 4th (#108 overall), and first 7th (#245 overall) round picks.
SCOUTING REPORT: Collins is a junior entry. He’s a big safety (6’0”, 228 pounds) with good speed (4.48). Tough, physical, intimidating safety who is a big hitter and sure tackler. Collins excels in run defense; he is like having an extra linebacker on the field. Good blitzer. He is solid in coverage with good range but lacks ideal quickness and recovery speed. Field-smart, instinctive, and a team leader, Collins has an ideal defensive temperament. He is a superb special teams player.
MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)
Opening Statement: We got a safety from Alabama, Landon Collins. He’s a big, versatile safety. He played a lot of positions for them. They asked him to do a lot at Alabama. We always like guys that have a lot of versatility like that and he’s played at a very high level of competition. He was very productive for them. We think he can play on the back end and we think he can play in the box. We think he can play like a sub linebacker… also as a special teams player. He’ll come right in and compete for a job at that position.
Q: Do you see him more as a strong safety, free safety or does that distinction matter?
A: I just see him as a safety. One or the other has to come down into the box at some point and they have to go back and play coverage at some point. I think he’s just a versatile safety. If you look at Alabama, you see them use him in all kinds of ways. He’s very smart, very productive, big, tough and can run.
Q: You don’t make a lot of trades up like this. Did you pick out particular players last night before you left the facility?
A: There were a couple of guys sticking out last night as we looked at the board before we left. We had a group of players right there together that we liked and we always try to combine value with need and so we made some calls last night and some calls today and it worked out for us.
Q: Does he have a first round grade?
A: We have a good grade on him.
Q: When you left last night, did you feel like you were going to get this player?
A: You never know. We just made contact last night with some teams in front of us because there were a couple of players that we liked still on the board right there, so I made some phone calls last night and some phone calls this morning and talked about it most of the day and we decided to make the deal.
Q: It seemed like a couple of players drafted at the end of the first round might have been on your draft board. Did that effect what you decided to do with this trade?
A: No, not really. There were a couple of good defensive players that we liked that got picked yesterday as well, but every draft, it happens like that. When that guy gets picked, move on to the next.
Q: You haven’t been able to bring a safety in through free agency up to this point. How much of a necessity was it for you to make sure you acquired a player at the safety position in this draft and did you need to make the pick at a certain point in the draft?
A: Not really. We just try to get good players when the opportunity presents itself, so we try to be aggressive. We liked this guy. He’s going to come in and compete with safeties we have on the roster right now and we’ll continue to see what’s out there and what’s available. It’s just April. There’s a long way to go before we play and so we’ll continue to try to upgrade that position like all of the other positions.
Q: Did you pay more than you expected to?
A: No. When you move up to that spot, you have buddies around the National Football League, but they’re not buddy enough to let you come up there for free. It’s a premium spot when you’re picking first in the second round, so you’ve got to pay to go up there and secure a guy.
Q: Did you pay less than you thought you might have to?
A: No. We paid a fair price for him. Very fair.
Q: What makes you think he can compete for a starting job, whereas many other rookies can’t?
A: A lot of rookies do compete for starting jobs every year. There are rookies that come in and play all over the National Football League at different positions, so why not him. He played at a very, very high level of competition. He’s smart. He can run. He’s tough. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t come in and compete.
Q: What are some reasons why he can compete for a starting job on this defense?
A: I think it’s just what I said, because he’s very accomplished at a very high level of competition, the highest level of competition. He’s been very productive there. He’s smart. We interviewed him. This is what I think is going to motivate him. I think a lot of people had him projected to go in the first row, so I think we’re going to get a very, very motivated player coming in here to prove some people wrong that didn’t take him in the first row. They missed out on a good player.
Q: Did you have him in for a visit?
A: Did we have him here? No.
Q: He’s been compared to Kam Chancellor as a heavy hitter. You acquired Ereck Flowers, who has a nasty streak. Are you trying to improve the physicality of this team?
A: You always want a physical football team, so the more physical guys you can acquire, the more physical your football team is going to be. That’s part of the method to who he is and why we want him and why we think he can be a good player for us.
Q: Did you view him as the top safety in the draft?
A: There were some more safeties we liked as well, but we had him ranked high.
Q: How important is it to you if a prospect has played in the SEC?
A: If they’re playing at a high level of competition, we think it’s an easier adjustment to play up here, but there’s plenty of guys that play at lower levels of competition that come in this league and do really well.
Q: Did you talk to Nick Saban about him?
A: We talked to everybody about him. Our scouts have talked to people. We saw him at the pro day. We saw him at the combine. We interviewed him, so we’ve done our homework on him.
Q: His last college game wasn’t his best.
A: I can’t remember what his last college game was like. Nobody plays a good game every week, I don’t think. We don’t penalize guys for having one bad game. He’s had a lot more good games than bad games for us.
Q: Is there a skill that stands out for him?
A: What really stood out to me was that they used him all over the place. They asked him to do a lot and that was very attractive to me because he lines up all over the place. They asked him to make calls, make checks and they used him in a variety of ways and that was very attractive to see a guy with so much versatility and how they use him. I liked that about him.
Q: Where does it rank on the priority list to gain back a pick later in the draft?
A: We’ll see how things unfold. We might get an opportunity to get some picks back. We’ll see. In the middle of the draft, it’s pick to pick with how things unfold for you. We’ll see how things unfold and we’ll play it that way.
Q: A lot has been made about his tackling prowess and being a hard-hitter. Do you see him as a guy who can cover tight ends?
A: Yeah. They used him in a lot of different ways. They used him down in the box. You see him go out there on slot receivers at times in their defense. He has cover skills. He’s a physical player. He can play in the box. He can play back on the hash. He can play back deep in the middle. He’s very versatile.
Q: If Landon Collins was not available, would you have been just as aggressive to get the 33rd pick?
A: I don’t know that, but if we couldn’t get this deal done, we were very confident that we were going to get a good player with our pick if we stayed at 40. We were going to get a very good player right there, but we thought it was in our interest to be aggressive to go after the safety in light of our safety situation to get a very good player who can compete for that job.
Q: Are you trying to get another draft pick in the second round?
A: We’ll see. You never know what will happen and we’ll just play it as each pick unfolds.
Q: Do you have expectations for the rest of the current safety group in light of this draft pick?
A: I expect all of those guys to come in and compete like crazy and see who’s the winner for the job. That’s what I expect. I expect all of them to come in and really compete. I think there will be some good competition for that position and we’ll continue to upgrade it as we go along.
Q: Can Landon Collins and Nat Berhe coexist as two safeties?
A: We’ll see. Whoever wins the job, that’s up to Steve Spagnuolo and Coach Coughlin to figure out. I’m just trying to provide them with some good choices to choose from.
MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)
Q: Did you really like [Landon] Collins?
A: Of course, we did. We went and got him.
Q: Did you suggest the trade?
A: We talked about it last night. We de-brief and we look at our board and we see who is sticking out there. Let’s make something happen here.
Q: What is it about Collins that made you feel that way?
A: Landon is the consummate football player. This guy is smart. He is tough. He is physical. He carries himself like a pro since the day he got to Alabama. One of the best interviews at the Combine that we have had. This guy is going to bring an attitude and maturity, not only to our defensive backfield, but to the whole defense. This guy will be a leader for us. He was that for Alabama and we think he can do the same thing for us.
Q: What was it about the interview that impressed you?
A: He had an air of confidence about him. Very mature. He blew us away talking about the football aspects of it. That is what we do. We talk to him a little bit and then we put him on the film. He blew us away with his total package – his personality, his maturity, his confidence and then his knowledge of football.
Q: Have you sensed that he has a chip on his shoulder because he believed he would go in the first round?
A: Yeah. This guy has been a highly publicized, highly decorated player from high school all the way through [his time] at Alabama and this year in the draft. A lot of the mock drafts had him really high. I am sure he felt he was worthy of being a first round pick. After last night, I don’t know if you guys saw his tweet, which basically said he is not going let that define him of him not getting drafted in the first round. We talked to him about that and this guy is coming to prove that he is the best safety in the draft and one of the best football players in the draft, no matter where he gets taken.
Q: Why did he fall?
A: Just circumstances. I can’t answer that. I would think that his label of him being a box safety. Some people may have gotten scared away. He didn’t blow anybody away at the Combine with some of the gym numbers, which again scares teams away, but if you go back to the tape and watch this guy and take his whole body of work into account, then we felt he was first round worthy.
Q: Was this one of the scenarios that you go over that you thought had a chance of unfolding this way?
A: Throughout the week he was – you kind of think in your mind, alright second round, who is going to be around and you discount certain guys. You just put them away. He was one of those guys that we thought would be gone, so we weren’t really thinking he would be around the second go around.
Q: Did you have him as a first round pick?
A: He was up there. He was in our first row.
Q: When you see a safety with 103 tackles, is he that active or are people getting funneled to him?
A: No. If you know anything about Alabama, they have some other talented players. They are not funneling just to him. He gets to the football. He has excellent instincts and he is aggressive running to the ball. For a safety, those are key elements. You have to see it and then you have to react to it. Some guys can see it and they don’t want to react to it. Some guys can’t see it and they can start going once they finally do see it. This guy sees it fast and he reacts fast and he goes aggressively to the ball. That is why he has so many tackles and he is always involved. The way [Alabama] uses him, he plays everywhere on their defense. He knows where to line up. He gets everyone else lined up. He just has a nose for the football.
Q: Coach Coughlin said he was anxious to get a defensive player… How do you view that as a personnel staff member?
A: Coach wants everybody. We have to stick to the board and stick to what we do. We meet and talk about things for a reason and we rank the guys and stack them for a reason. He wants a pass rusher. He wants this. We will get the best players up there.
Q: Were most of the guys you liked at the beginning of tonight defensive guys?
A: Yeah, sure, there were some defensive guys.
MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN: (Video)
Opening Statement: We had a real nice relationship between a need and an outstanding player. A guy that was in the first round. It has already been said, Jerry [Reese] mentioned it, I’m sure, about how motivated this young man is. [It] couldn’t be a better situation for us. Everybody thinks of him as a solid hitter. They kept saying over and over on television about being in the box. That will be a part of it, but you can’t play in this level as a safety without having to defend the middle of the field. I think he will be able to do that. Many times you see on film [Collins] is down low and doesn’t get in a position where he can see the entire field. The deep of the deepest is going to be a factor, no doubt. He is very skilled and very motivated. He will help us on special teams. He will compete for a starting job. He is a smart guy. He has contributed at Alabama in many different ways, as a leader and as a guy in the secondary making the calls. We are excited about the pick.
Q: How difficult was it having to give up two picks? Was this a long discussion last night into today?
A: There was a lot of time during the day today to discuss a lot of things. Everyone was evaluated. Whether it was the top half of the second or the bottom half of the first, those left. Decisions were made in terms of the quality of the player and the need position. It went from there.
Q: Where were you on the confidence scale when you went home last night in regards to ending up with [Collins]?
A: There were any number of players that probably could have ended up in that category. I was anxious that it would be a defensive player. It turned out to be that way, but anxious not until this afternoon.
Q: Is this dealing with a position of strength in some ways? You guys had to make a big move and give up draft picks to fill up this pretty glaring need at safety?
A: I don’t know. I think it is a fair deal for both teams. Tennessee is obviously looking for picks to go along with their first round choice. If you want something and it is above you, you have to give it up. I thought it was a fair deal.
Q: How important was it to you to get another guy at the safety position?
A: Very important. Just like it always is when you feel like you want to increase the number of people to compete for the job. It is very important. The more competitive the situation is, the better off it is. I am happy about that.
Q: What do you mean when you say Collins is motivated?
A: He thought he would go in the first round. He needs to come in here and prove to everybody that he should have. That is a good situation. Any time we’ve have had that one, it has turned out pretty well for us.
Q: Like who else?
A: No, do your own research.
Q: Do you get the impression [that Collins is motivated] just from speaking with him?
A: I wouldn’t have brought it up if I didn’t. It was mentioned a couple of times. He mentioned it himself, according to the people that look at the Twitter business.
Q: If he gets bigger, could he be a linebacker?
A: He is a safety, thank you.
Q: Given his motivation, do you think he can develop into a young leadership voice in the locker room?
A: Yes, I do, but you are not going to see that right away. You’ll see it on the field, but you may not see it in terms of that. A rookie comes in here and he has a lot of work to do before he gets to that. You have to prove. You do it by how hard you work and you lead from the front – first in line [and so on]. If he does that on the field, he will establish a platform and that platform can be developed going forward.
MEDIA Q&A WITH COLLINS: (Giants.com Interview)
Q: You sound like you’re very motivated to show people what you can do?
A: Definitely, I’m very motivated.
Q: What was the whole experience like for you?
A: Yesterday was a disappointment for me missing out on the first round, but other than that, I’ll use it as a stepping stone and use it as motivation to showcase that I’m ready and ready to play and ready to step on the field and do what I’ve been doing since I was playing at four years old.
Q: Do you have preference as to which safety spot you play?
A: All over. I can play sides of the field, strong or free. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing it in college. It does not matter which safety I play.
Q: What were your expectations coming in?
A: As a kid, my dream was always was to go in the first round and walk across the stage and be a first round draft pick. But today I flew home to spend some time with my family and watch the draft with them because I only had a few of my family members up there and I wanted to see a lot of my family members and give them kisses and hugs. I just wanted to be around them and then my cousin and I took a drive to the lake and we got the phone call driving back to the house.
Q: Why did you leave Chicago? Did you think it was going to take a little more time for your name to get called?
A: I just wanted to come home and spend some time with my family because I haven’t seen them for a while. I had been training, being all over the country.
Q: Between the time the draft ended yesterday and you were drafted today, did you talk to the Giants at all?
A: Not at all. The last time the Giants and I spoke was at the combine.
Q: Did you hear about the Giants trying to move up to get you?
A: No. The Giants called me right after the draft had started. I could hear it in the background that they traded up and everything. It was a fantastic feeling.
Q: Does that put more pressure on you knowing they gave up quite a bit to select you?
A: Not just them moving up, but the player that I am, I’m a baller. All I’ve been doing is just balling. Once I touch the field, I’m a different animal. That’s what they’re going to get. That motor is in my blood and in my body.
Q: Were you aware of their need at safety?
A: I knew since I entered the draft. I knew they were in need of a safety, but it’s been a while since I knew that.
Q: A couple coaches said you blew them away in your interview with the team. Did you realize you had a good interview with them?
A: No. I was being myself. I was being the person I’ve always been and it’s the mantra that I have. It’s always taken me a long way. If they loved me… they picked me up. That’s all I can say.
Q: Is this the first time in your football career that you’ve been overlooked?
A: I was hurt overall. I was hurt because it was just my dream. My dream was to always go in the first round, so I was hurt more than anything.
Q: What went into the decision to go home from Chicago? Did you think about staying an extra night?
A: Definitely. It was a hard decision because it was like should I stay? I can go early. And then I was thinking about my family because if I do go early, I’ll fly back into town. So many thoughts were going through my mind, so I was definitely just trying to get answers from my family that was up there to see what I should do. We then decided to come home so we could be together and when I do have to leave, I could leave them and give them hugs and kisses.
Q: Was it tough walking out of there last night?
A: It was tough. It was definitely tough, but I walked out of there with my head held high because I know what kind of capabilities that I have as a player and whatever team gets me, I have a chip on my shoulder to prove why I should have been a first round candidate. That’s definitely what I will showcase when I start playing this upcoming season.
Q: How well do you know Odell Beckham Jr.?
A: We know each other pretty well. I met him my freshman year. He was a sophomore when I met him. They were up in Alabama chilling with us during their bye week and then we stayed in touch since then. We’re cool.
Q: Have you heard from him since you’ve been drafted?
A: I have to check my messages. I have over 200 messages right now, so I definitely don’t know who’s texting me right now.
Q: How much better do you think you can be with this chip on your shoulder?
A: That’s in God’s hands. All I know is that I’m going to be a dominant player when I touch the field.