The Dallas Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches along their star-studded offensive line. Coming onto the scene in 2014 by springing DeMarco Murray to the league rushing title, the unit that is full of former first round picks, excluding undrafted left guard La’el Collins, has only gotten better, younger, and deeper since then.
This past season, with injuries derailing the team’s offense by taking out Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the offensive line still led Darren McFadden to 1,089 yards on the ground – paving paths for the veteran to run through in a man-blocking scheme, which is not their collective strength.
McFadden’s 2015 performance proved just how talented the Cowboys’ line is. A new face along this line was rookie La’el Collins, who replaced the reliable veteran Ron Leary as a starter for 11 games.
La’el Collins was signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft. Having already selected offensive linemen with their first round picks in three of the previous four drafts, the Cowboys were ecstatic to add another perceived first round talent without having to use a pick at all.
At times in his rookie season, La’el Collins gelled perfectly with the likes of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Showing his freakish combination of athleticism and size, Collins consistently made impact blocks that knocked defenders over at the line of scrimmage and allowed him to get to the second level.
Of course, there were also some inconsistencies in Collins’ game from the left guard spot. After watching some game tape from him though, I didn’t see anything from the former LSU standout that shouldn’t be easily fixed as he develops.
If La’el Collins can play with more leverage along with overall awareness at the position, he is going to be an absolutely invaluable part of the Cowboys rushing attack in 2016, and beyond. There is no doubt that the Cowboys realized the long-term potential this offensive line has to be dominant thanks to guys like La’el Collins, and they gave the unit a big boost by adding running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick.
Elliott could not be a better fit for the way Dallas’ offensive front wants to play, and look for him to do special things following La’el Collins this season. While there are bound to still be a few bumps in the road for Collins, his development throughout the season is going to be something that Cowboys Nation should keep a very close eye on.
When it comes to exciting futures for the younger players on the Cowboys’ roster, La’el Collins’ has to be among the brightest.
What do YOU expect from La’el Collins in 2016? Share your thoughts with a comment below or email to firstname.lastname@example.org! And you can read about more “Cowboys Sophomores” profiles in the archives!