Dallas Cowboys: Where Will La’el Collins Play?


The Dallas Cowboys made minor news last Wednesday when they lined undrafted rookie offensive lineman La’el Collins up with the first team at right tackle during organized team activities. The team’s incumbent right tackle Doug Free is still recovering from foot surgery that cost him seven total games. Collins played primarily at tackle during his time at LSU.

Dallascowboys.com asked head coach Jason Garrett  about which position Collins may land at once all the pieces are back in place.

"“We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes,” Garrett said. “The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as he can. So right now he’s going to play right tackle for us.”"

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Of course, all the hysteria is coming from those who had already penciled Collins in as the team’s starting left guard. With Free recently being resigned to a three-year contract worth 15 million dollars, and Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin not giving up their starting spots, it only made sense for a one-time potential first round pick to take Ronald Leary‘s starting spot.

It is still likely that Collins will eventually land at left guard. For now, the coaching staff may have wanted to have the unrestricted free agent to open the OTA’s in a position he has familiarity with. As the offseason ramps up, look for Collins to start working in more as a guard. After all, the Cowboys failed to specify any position for him on the depth chart, leaving his title as “offensive lineman”.

Should Dallas deem Collins a potential replacement for Free, they could have all five starters at 25 years of age and younger on their offensive line. However, the draft selection of Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green was likely made with Free’s age in mind.

Two other factors that could be playing a role in the Cowboys thought process are Leary’s contract and injury status. The fourth year guard was a restricted free agent this offseason, signing a tender for one-year and just shy of 600,000 dollars. Also, Leary has a degenerative problem in his knees, which caused him to go undrafted out of Memphis.

Leary could be set to finally cash in following a potential three years of solid starting services. However, can the team be confident that his knees will hold up for any significant amount of time? With contracts coming down the line for Frederick and Martin, Dallas will likely opt to spend their money on them.

All these signs point to Collins eventually landing at left guard at some point this season. The idea of adding another first round talent to a youthful line is too promising. Once Free returns to the lineup, the Cowboys could solidify their unit as best in the NFL. Unfortunately for Leary, that means that he could be summoned to backup duties this year should the team choose not to trade him.

The NFL talent process if unforgiving, as good coaches and players lose their jobs all the time. The monstrous upside of adding Collins to an already dominant offensive line was too great an opportunity to pass up as quarterback Tony Romo‘s winds down to a close.

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