We won’t find out until the NFL Honors awards show on the eve of Super Bowl LI, but the second-year safety definitely has a case to be the 2016 honoree. Collins, whom general manager Jerry Reese traded up to select with the first pick in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, led the Giants for the second time in as many seasons with 125 tackles, a franchise record for a safety, including 100 solo stops.
Collins, whose interception return for a touchdown in London is also a finalist for the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year, became the only player in NFL history to have at least 100 solo tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defensed in a season. He was twice named NFC Defensive Player of the Week and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Month for November. The Alabama product also picked up first-team All-Pro honors and started in last week’s Pro Bowl in Orlando.
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But will that be enough to fend off Oakland’s Khalil Mack, who was already named the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America? It might be, according to some on an expert panel at NFL.com.
“After an average rookie year, Landon Collins streamlined his body and improved in every meaningful category,” said Gil Brandt, the vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960-1989. “He made so many plays for this Giants defense it looked like there were two of him on the field.”
The last Giant to win the award was Strahan in 2001, the year he set the single-season sack record with 22.5. Taylor, another Pro Football Hall of Famer, won in 1981, 1982 and 1986. Houston’s J.J. Watt was looking for his third consecutive award – and fourth in five years – until a back injury limited him to three games in 2016.
This year’s winner will be revealed during NFL Honors, a two-hour awards special hosted by Emmy-award winner Keegan-Michael Key. It will broadcast nationally on FOX from the Wortham Theater Center in Houston on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. ET.