With his sights set on the NFL, former Alabama star safety Landon Collins wants teams to know he's willing to work hard for every opportunity that he gets.
On Landon Collins' NFL.com draft profile, the words "physical" and "aggressive" are used on multiple occasions.
And while his own pro comparison to a current player would be the Seattle Seahawks' Kam Chancellor, Collins' all-time comparison would be to that of his idol and former Washington Redskins great, Sean Taylor.
"I always idolized myself after Sean Taylor," Collins said at the NFL Combine in February. "That was my man. His physical play and his passion for the game, you could see it every time he touched the field."
If his goal was to emulate his idol, then Collins has certainly gotten off on the right track.
As the No. 1-rated safety in the nation in his recruiting class and a top-10 overall prospect by 247sports.com, Collins headed for Alabama where he would see action as a true freshman. In his first season, he recorded a team-high 10 special teams tackles and blocked a punt.
The following season, he assumed a starting role in the Crimson Tide's defensive backfield and immediately established himself as a force. As he continued to develop into one of the nation's premiere defensive backs, Collins says the secret to his success is to treat every rep – game or practice – the same.
"Every day at practice, I ball," he said. "Then, I came out and brought it to the field. I played my heart out. They're going to get the same thing when I get to the NFL."
As his junior year progressed, Collins said it was an ongoing discussion about whether or not he would declare for the draft at season's end.
"It wasn't a tough decision, but we talked it out throughout the season – me and Coach [Nick] Saban – and we just made sure I stayed in the season," he said. "He said, 'If you have a great season, keep playing the you're playing, you should have no problem going out.'"
After recording a team-high 103 tackles a senior, he was a finalist for the Nagurski Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Jim Thrope Award. The 2014 unanimous first-team All-American and All-SEC defensive back decided it was time to head to the NFL.
Check out these photos of Landon Collins, a hard-hitting, talented safety coming out of the University of Alabama.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, Collins ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, jumped a 35-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump and then benched pressed 225-pounds 16 times at his pro day.
NFL.com's Bryan Fischer and Chase Goodbread tabbed Collins as one of five players that stood out at the entire Combine.
"Alabama's Landon Collins ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, and a 4.54 on his other attempt, to help solidify his status as the top safety prospect in a draft that is razor thin at that position," they wrote. "Don't expect Collins to do much more than position drills at Alabama's pro day event on March 11 – his draft stock couldn't be helped much more."
The bottom line on Collins, his NFL.com draft profile says, is that he's a "tempo-setter who can energize a defense with his downhill, aggressive style." While experts don't see his hands as a plus – he had five interceptions in college – his sure-tackling ability is something that can't be ignored.
For Collins, tackling is something that he takes pride in. Whether he's tracking someone in the open field or meeting a running back in the hole, he's confident he'll make the stop.
"I'm physical. I like playing in the box," he said. "There's not that much area to cover and it's easy. If a running back tries to meet me in the hole, I'll definitely be right there to bring him down."
And while he hails from a collegiate power in Alabama, Collins says that his mindset in the NFL will be to earn every opportunity he gets.
"It's the mindset that you got to go into the game with," he said. "You can't be like 'I'm this Alabama player. I'm supposed to live up to the status.'
"You just got to go into this mindset that you got to work hard for yourself."