The 2017 season ended up a disappointing one for the Dallas Cowboys. Things didn't quite go as they had planned, but they're probably pleased with the way a few things turned out in the end. One of the things they have to be pleased with is the performance of their right tackle, La'el Collins.
To say that La'el Collins had a good year in 2017 would be an understatement.
He not only saw his bank account increase after receiving a contract extension from the Cowboys, but he was able to play an entire 16-game season.
I would qualify that as a good year. Wouldn't you?
Fortunately, La'el Collins' transition from left guard to right tackle worked out well. It's a move that was met with some skepticism at the time, but Collins proved to be up to the task, and it's actually excellent news for the Cowboys moving forward.
You see, the Cowboys really value versatility in their players.
Collins proved he has versatility in spades, and can now be counted on to play either LG or RT when needed. I can't tell you how beneficial that is to the Cowboys, especially with the concern surrounding Tyron Smith and his future health.
Tyron Smith has a nagging back injury that has bothered him the last few seasons. Unfortunately, this is the kind of injury that isn't going away, which raises some real concerns about his future. Right now, there's no way of knowing how Dallas will handle concerns about Tyron Smith. They can roll the dice and hope he's able to play an entire season without his back flaring up, but I think that would be unwise.
They must have a contingency plan if worse comes to worst. That is why I believe La'el Collins' versatility is so important moving forward.
His position flex to start at either LG or RT could allow the Cowboys to find another starting-caliber left tackle through the draft or free agency as insurance for Smith. They could then kick Collins back inside to LG, his best position in my opinion, and play the rookie/FA at RT.
To me, this just makes too much sense not to happen.
The Cowboys would have a backup option for Tyron Smith, fill the hole at LG with Collins, and solidify the entire offensive line, all at once.
Of course, this all depends on the Cowboys' ability to find another starting-caliber LT, and wouldn't be possible in the first place without La'el Collins. His position flex has proven to be invaluable and should continue to be so.