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The Giants haven’t had a Pro Bowl safety since Antrel Rolle in 2013. But Rolle said he believes they have another one now in breakout star Landon Collins.
“I definitely see him being on pace for a Pro Bowl, possibly even an All-Pro season,” the former Giant and three-time Pro Bowler told The Post by phone. “I don’t see a safety having a better season than him this far, and that’s a position I follow very closely.”
Following a solid, though unspectacular, rookie season in which he was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team, Collins has emerged as a force at strong safety, a big-hitting ballhawk who has been a key to the current four-game winning streak.
How dominant has Collins been? According to, he is tied for the fifth-best odds to win the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award — behind such big names as Von Miller (Broncos) Marcus Peters (Chiefs), Lorenzo Alexander (Bills) and Dee Ford (Chiefs). Collins is the only player in the NFL to lead his team in tackles, interceptions and sacks.
“First and foremost, I think he’s a very instinctive player. He seems to be a player that wants it,” Rolle said. “There’s sometimes you find players who come into the league and they feel their work is done. I think he feels like he has a whole lot to prove, and he does.
“I’m sure him slipping to the second round has a lot to do with that. He’s going out there playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. More importantly, I feel like he’s grown so much from Year 1 just to Year 2. What I mean by that is his eyes are completely different in what he sees, as compared to what he didn’t see before. Now he’s a more versatile safety, being able to play in the back end, and be dominant at the line of scrimmage.”
Collins’ strength coming out of Alabama was his ability to play like an extra linebacker near the line of scrimmage, and the 6-foot, 225-pound second-year pro has continued to do so — producing 74 tackles and three sacks. But he really has improved his coverage skills — making four interceptions, all in the past three games, and contributing seven passes defensed.
“He’s been playing like one of the top, if not the top, safety in the league,” defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “I’m fortunate enough to be on the same team as him witnessing it.”
Even Giants on the other side of the ball have noticed. Rashad Jennings remembered watching Collins star at Alabama on Saturdays as an All-American. He is seeing that same player now.
“You’re starting to see that college player emerging in the NFL,” Jennings said. “He’s made a big-time difference this year. He’s making plays everywhere.”
Giants coach Ben McAdoo and quarterback Eli Manning said they believe the jump is partially the result of the on-the-job training Collins received last year. He has seen everything that is in front of him now already. He has been beaten for big plays, and suffered through losing streaks. That experience shouldn’t be minimized.
“He seems to be around the ball more, and when you’re playing fast, you know [what] you’re doing, good things tend to happen,” Manning said. “That’s what’s going on right now.”
The Bears certainly are aware of him. Quarterback Jay Cutler raved about Collins as the player he can’t let beat him.
“Heck of a football player,” Cutler said. “They use him in a lot of different ways. He’s good on the edge, good in coverage, they drop him down to [the] linebacker level and have him fill gaps.
“You can tell he brings a lot of energy to that defense.”