No one knows for certain what the Redskins' new defense will look like under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, but it's a fact that outside of Landon Collins, the secondary is going to look completely different.
Both starting cornerbacks and the starting free safety from 2019 are gone, making Collins the only holdover from that group. The past five months have been filled with changes to those positions, as the coaching staff has tried to provide newcomers and returners the opportunity to earn one of the starting roles.
None of them have played alongside each other before, so Collins wants to see how they all work together on the field, but he already likes all of the new additions.
"These guys are great pickups by our team. I'm looking forward to it," Collins told local reporters via videoconference on May 20.
It's been well-documented that one of head coach Ron Rivera's first decisions when he took over the team in January was to establish a core group of players on the roster. These are the select group of players who the team could build around for the future on offense and defense.
Rivera hasn't disclosed the full list of those players, but there is a good chance that Collins' name is on it. His team-leading 117 tackles marked the fourth fourth time in five seasons that he has eclipsed 100 tackles, and he had four pass breakups to go with two forced fumbles.
With Collins a guaranteed starter, Rivera filled the three open spots by signing Ronald Darby, Kendall Fuller and Sean Davis in free agency. They also used a seventh-round pick on Kamren Curl, who has experience at safety and cornerback.
"I think the team has some great defensive backs that can be put around me...to make this thing work. It's a blessing to me."
Collins has seen most of the new players before, so he already knows what they can bring to the secondary. He got a close look at Darby during his two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and watched as Fuller made the game-sealing interception in Super Bowl LIV with the Kansas City Chiefs.
One of the players Collins doesn't know much about is Davis, who has spent the past four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He said he needs to do some research and ask some of Davis' teammates about his background, but he has already heard that Davis is fast and knows how to make plays.
With Davis in contention to be the team's starting free safety, the two will likely have the most communication on the field. They have not formally met yet because of Redskins Park being shut down in response to the novel coronavirus, but Davis already knows how impactful Collins can be in games and how their relationship will unfold on the field.
"I'm going to be the deep guy and Landon's going to be down low for the most part," Davis said. "I'm looking forward to meeting Landon and looking forward to working with him."
Collins also has confidence in the players returning to the roster from 2019, and that includes cornerback Jimmy Moreland, who is entering his second season. Moreland could have seven interceptions last year, Collins said, just based off of his athletic ability. His issue was that he didn't trust himself, but Collins believes that hesitancy is in the past.
"I was like, 'Wow, he is going to be special,'" Collins said of Moreland's rookie performance. "I think he has the confidence now and the trust that he knows we trust him in his ability to do something, have his back and cover him."
Rivera has challenged Collins to be a leader for the younger players and veterans. He wants Collins to provide support for the younger players like Moreland and Curl so they can have an example of how to have a successful professional career.
Spending the offseason apart from his teammates has made that challenging at times, so Collins is doing what he can to be there for his teammates.
"All I can do is keep a line open," he said. "I am here to answer anything. Don't be scared. At the end of the day we have to be a brotherhood on the back end."
Collins is all in on the moves the Redskins have made to address the secondary. The additions to the defense as a whole, particularly Fuller, Darby and Davis, have him anxious to start the new season.
Combined with the talent that was already in the secondary, Collins is excited for what the defense can accomplish.
"I don't see why we don't have that breakout year that we want."