The Dallas Cowboys decision to move La'el Collins from left guard to right tackle this off-season wasn't one that I was really in favor of. I personally believe he is a better OG in the NFL, but if he can hold his own against All-Pro Khalil Mack this weekend I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong.
I've been paying very close attention to how La'el Collins has been handling himself on the outside at right tackle these first few preseason games. The position switch has pretty much gone as expected. He has had his ups and downs, but for the most part held his own.
The thing that I've noticed most about La'el Collins' struggles at right tackle is with his hand placement. When he is able to get his hands on the defender, he can more often than not win the match up. But, he gets in trouble when he misses with his hands and allows the defender to get into his body or use their speed to get around the outside.
I've noticed that it all starts before the snap of the ball. Sometimes he has his hands high and then the next, he is holding them low around his thighs, where it takes longer to get into position. He really needs to work on his consistency here because it affects the way he blocks.
Unfortunately, Collins just doesn't look very comfortable out at right tackle right now. But, that could all change as he gains more confidence. A really good way to boost his confidence quickly is for him to have a really good showing this week against one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in the NFL, Khalil Mack.
Khalil Mack might just be the best pass rushing DE Collins will face in 2017 and that's saying something considering some of the pass rushers on the Cowboys schedule this year. Von Miller, JPP and Olivier Vernon, Robert Quinn, Clay Matthews, and Vic Beasley are some of the pass rushers on the schedule this year. You can bet defensive coordinators will be looking for the best matchup, which means they will be avoiding Tyron Smith and focusing on Collins.
Since this is the “dress rehearsal” game for the Dallas Cowboys, I wonder just how much they will trust Collins to handle Khalil Mack in one-on-one situations. I believe they will give him at least a little bit of help with a tight end or with the running back, but then again they may just throw caution to the wind and see what happens.
There is no doubt Khalil Mack is a special talent. He has amazingly accumulated 30 quarterback sacks in his three years in the NFL. That's evidence enough Collins has his work cut out for him, but it will be a good measuring stick to determine just how ready is before the season kicks off.
So, I don't know about you, but I will definitely be paying extra close attention to #71 this weekend and how he performs against one of the pass rushers in the league. I'm hoping he can convince me that he is a better right tackle then guard.