The Offseason is good for a lot of things. I personally use it to read, catch up, and get ready for the upcoming NFL season. Actual NFL teams use it for the Draft – the Cowboys dominated that – and to experiment with potential ideas to implement when it all starts to matter. This might be the case for the Dallas Cowboys as they’re currently working with 2015 Undrafted Free Agent superstar La’el Collins at Right Tackle as opposed to his normal position, Left Guard.
Perhaps you believe that Left Guard was La’el Collins’ position because that’s the one that he’s best suited for. Maybe you believe La’el was in between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick because the Dallas Cowboys didn’t want to trust Tony Romo‘s right side to a rookie two years ago. Or maybe, just maybe, you believe La’el Collins played Left Guard because Doug Free was a legitimate Right Tackle.
Whatever your belief, it seems like La’el Collins could spend his third year donning the blue and silver protecting the right edge of the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line. You’ll of course remember that the aforementioned Doug Free retired earlier this offseason, so La’el is filling a need the Cowboys currently have. But what about Left Guard then? There’s no more Ron Leary – he defected to the Denver Broncos – to take those scraps, so who will play there? The answer to that may be the reason La’el Collins is kicking outside, and it’s an interesting one.
La’el Collins To Right Tackle Isn’t A Slam Dunk
To the casual observer the idea of La’el Collins moving out all the way to the right may not seem like a big deal. After all, La’el played Offensive Tackle during his collegiate days at LSU. He was good there… so he should be good here. Right? Isn’t that the way it works? Bueller?
John Owning of FanRag Sports cautioned against this move, citing all-world stud Tyron Smith as a prime example of exactly how moving linemen can be filled with growing pains. Consider that La’el Collins has spent his entire NFL life so far learning – and perfecting – the mannerisms, mechanics, and philosophies of playing Left Guard. Playing Right Tackle means that all of that is mirrored and the caliber of pass rusher he’s tasked with blocking increases significantly.
The truth of the matter is that La’el Collins is going to have to be paid soon – although contrary to what was some Twitter discussion he will be a Restricted Free Agent in 2018 – and you don’t pay prime dollar for Left Guards. La’el Collins was a golden goose the Cowboys accidentally tripped over after the 2015 NFL Draft. To be able to cultivate him into a starting Right Tackle opposite of Tyron Smith and next to Zack Martin for a generation is a huge gift and luxury.
Count me as one who’s excited about the prospect of La’el Collins at Right Tackle, but I’m admittedly in this camp under a veil of patience. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can just swing out to Right Tackle from Left Guard and be a beast all the time. Remember this in October.
Does La’el Collins’ Move Mean The Cowboys Believe In Jonathan Cooper At Left Guard?
Simple math tells us that if La’el Collins is playing Right Tackle and not Left Guard that the Left Guard position needs someone to play it. I’m kind of a math expert, I know.
The Dallas Cowboys currently have Byron Bell and Jonathan Cooper as options to play along the interior of the left side of the Offensive Line. Byron Bell is a fine lineman – and was partly the subject of a Stephen Jones joke recently – but the sexier option in the minds of Dallas Cowboys fans is the 2013 7th Overall Pick of the Arizona Cardinals – Jonathan Cooper.
How do I know that Cowboys Nation finds this option sexy? If Jonathan Cooper is your LG and La’el Collins is your RT, here’s your Offensive Line from left to right:
- Tyron Smith, 2011 1st Rounder, 9th Overall
- Jonathan Cooper, 2013 1st Rounder, 7th Overall
- Travis Frederick, 2013 1st Rounder, 31st Overall
- Zack Martin, 2014 1st Rounder, 16th Overall
- La’el Collins, 2015 UDFA, but would’ve gone in the first if not for what we all know.
Five First Rounders on the Offensive Line.
Everybody wants to be able to say that, you know it. And I don’t blame them. I like saying cool things, and this is the perfect coal for the engine-that-crushes-Eagles-fans-souls.
But seriously, it makes sense that Jonathan Cooper is the reason the Dallas Cowboys feel confident enough to take the risks we mentioned to move La’el Collins to RT. The Cowboys brought Cooper in shortly after the 2016 regular season ended, and they liked him so much that they brought him back on a one-year deal.
If La’el Collins were to stick to the position he’s played all along in Dallas, LG, then that would mean the Cowboys would have to depend on Chaz Green or Emmett Cleary at RT, although Bell himself is an option… since Doug Free isn’t coming back (sigh). It’s not hard to see that the Cowboys must view the Cooper at LG and Collins at RT fix as the best one for the sake of the overall unit.
Get excited to say the cool thing, because it could seriously happen. Huzzah.