Going into the offseason this year, a main concern on defense for the Giants was the safety position. After all, New Yorks’ three safeties that got the most playing time last year (Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, and Quinten Demps), all left via free agency. Jerry Reese did his best to calm fans down by saying the safety position was not a need, but we all knew the truth.
Enter the 2015 NFL Draft. With the first round in the books, Landon Collins was still on the board. With teams like Jacksonville, Washington, and Chicago all ahead of New York, who selected eighth in round two, Jerry Reese and company had to make a move to get ahead in order to get the Alabama Alum. After packaging up a few picks with Tennessee, New York got their man. Collins, who stands at 6’0 and 228 lbs., plays with a vengeance. In his sophomore and junior season at Alabama, Collins totaled 173 tackles to go along with 5 INTs and 3 FF. Many “experts” say the knock on him is that he isn’t good in coverage, which isn’t the case at all. Collins is more of a box safety, because a lot of the defensive schemes at Alabama had him lined up almost as a LB. Don’t let that fool you though, Landon can cover TEs and slot WRs if need be.
Going into the fifth round of the draft, New York still wasn’t sold on their safety corps. With the eighth selection in fifth round, New York selected Mykkele Thompson, a 6’1 195 lbs. safety from Texas. This pick went under the radar, but it shouldn’t have. In his four year career at Texas, Thompson totaled 201 tackles, with 2 INTs and 3 sacks. He played a lot of Nickleback at Texas, but the Giants will use him at safety. I know two INTs aren’t a lot from a guy who played four years in college, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a playmaker. Thompson had a plethora of pass breakups and was a great contributor on Special Teams with three blocked punts.
Why Thunder and Lightning though? If you remember in the early 2000s, New York had two RBs with that nickname, Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. Tiki was the fast and agile back, while Dayne was the bruiser. The same applies here for these two at safety. With almost 40 lbs. over Mykkele Thompson, Landon Collins is obviously the thunder. He is a hardnosed hitter that can make things happen. That leaves “lightning” to Thompson, with good reason. After running a sub 4.5 40 at his pro day, Mykkele has the speed to do almost anything. The one thing that gets overlooked with Thompson though, is his hitting. He can lay the boom on a receiver no question.
The best thing about these two is that they complement each other very well. As stated earlier, Collins is the hard hitter and Thompson is the centerfielder. The two will be able to play off of each other nicely. What one may “lack” the other is there to pick up.
New York may have drafted a storm in 2015 with the selections of Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson. Only time will tell if the duo will thrive in Spags defensive scheme. Just know one thing, with thunder comes lightning.