Dallas Cowboys Boost Offensive Line: Sign Projected First Rounder La’el Collins
Following the 2015 NFL Draft this weekend, many of the national media’s draft analysts gave the Dallas Cowboys an average to below-average grade for their selections this year. But after Thursday’s signing of projected first round pick LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins, that grade is bound to be going up.
It’s being reported that Collins’ has signed a three-year deal in Dallas, worth an estimated $1.7 million. But the 6-4, 305 pound tackle should have landed a massive first round contract last Thursday instead. Collins, who is a high-effort guy that plays with a mean streak and who excels at run-blocking, was projected to become a swing tackle or a starting guard on the NFL level his rookie year.
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But just days before the draft, Collins’ was wanted for questioning in the April 24th shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Brittney Mills, and her unborn child. Although the Baton Rouge police department have consistently claimed the NFL prospect is not a suspect in the case, the possible connection to the murders resulted in Collins’ being undrafted.
This week, a paternity test done by the Baton Rouge police department confirmed that Collins was not the father of the deceased child. That result, and the fact the young man has maintained his innocence, saying he wasn’t even in Baton Rouge at the time, may have been the deciding factors that made the Cowboys comfortable enough to sign the 21-year old.
According to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys went all out to convince Collins to make Dallas his new home. Even bringing in their star quarterback to help seal the deal.
"“Collins had plenty of suitors, but the Cowboys were the first team to bring him in on a road trip. He made a visit to Dallas on Wednesday night where he was greeted at the home of owner Jerry Jones with a full-court press from every level of the organization, per a source. In addition to Jones, coaches, players, including members of the offensive line and quarterback Tony Romo, were all on hand to woo Collins, per a source.”"
Now, the question becomes where does Collins’ fit along this talented offensive line? Although being very talented, the young lineman still has work to do to improved his overall technique, especially in pass protection.
The Cowboys have young, Pro Bowlers in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and right guard Zack Martin. So, the two areas where Collins could presumably take over are right tackle or left guard.
The Cowboys right tackle, Doug Free, just signed a three-year, $15 million deal. But the 31-year old did miss seven games total last season, including both of Dallas’ playoff games. The other possible takeover spot for Collins is at left guard, where fourth-year veteran Ronald Leary currently starts.
Pro Football Focus ranked Leary (+5.0) the worst of the Cowboys’ starting linesman last season. This was mainly due to his poor pass protection rating (-7.8). Unfortunately, pass protection is also a weak area for Collins.
But Leary is in the final year of his contract in 2015. And he does have a degenerative knee condition that is expected to limit his career. If Collins was going to win a starting role on this talented offensive line, at left guard would be my guess.
Next: How The Dallas Cowboys Aced The Draft With Their First Two Picks