#71 La'el Collins
La’el Collins was born on July 26, 1993 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He played his collegiate career at LSU where he won the Jacobs Blocking award in 2014, which recognizes the top offensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Collins is a starting left guard in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, who signed him as an undrafted free agent after the completion of the 2015 NFL Draft.
La’el Collins attended high school at Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Collins was named to the 3A All-State team as a sophomore, junior, and senior in high school.
During Collins’ senior year, he paved the way for running back Jeremy Hill and helped lead Redemptorist to the LHSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals, where they lost to Patterson who were led by running back Kenny Hillard. Collins, Hill, and Hillard would all go on to become teammates in college at LSU.
After his senior season, La’el Collins would go on to play in the Under Armour All-America Game and ended up being named All-America by Parade and USA Today.
Collins was considered one of the premier offensive tackles in the nation coming out of high school and was a unanimous five-star recruit by nearly every major recruiting source. Rivals.com ranked him second only behind Cyrus Kouandjio, while ESPN.com had him ranked third behind Kouandjio and Christian Westerman.
La’el Collins had scholarship offers from nearly every major college around the nation, including Auburn, Florida State, and Southern California, but was ultimately an early commitment to LSU.
La’el Collins was one of the top offensive lineman in school history at LSU. He played in 45 games with 38 starts during his career as a Tiger. Collins played a total of 2,533 offensive snaps and had 222 ½ knockdowns in his four-year collegiate career.
In 2011, as a freshman, La’el Collins was recognized as a freshman All-American by CBSSports.com after his first season in college. He ended up seeing action in seven games as a true freshman, but didn’t have any starts. He saw his first action against Northwestern State, where he posted three knockdowns in 21 snaps. Collins finished his freshman year playing 46 snaps on the offensive line and posted five knockdowns.
The following season in 2012, Collins started 13 games at left guard. He led the team in total snaps (836) and knockdowns (64 ½). He made his first career start against North Texas where he accumulated three knockdowns in 36 offensive snaps. Collins was named honorable mention All-SEC by the Associated Press and earned SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week for his play against top-ranked Alabama, who they nearly upset.
As a junior in 2013, La’el Collins played 12 games at left tackle and earned second team All-SEC honors from the SEC Coaches. He played a total of 808 offensive snaps and accumulated 65 knockdowns. In his first career start at left tackle, he earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors in the season opener against TCU.
Collins decided to return for his senior season and started all 13 games at left tackle for the Tigers. He once again led the team in both offensive snaps (843) and knockdowns (88). La’el Collins earned second team All-America honors from USA Today and Associated Press, first-team All-SEC by the SEC Coaches and Associated Press, and was named the recipient of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is presented to the top offensive lineman in the SEC as voted by the league’s coaches.
La’el Collins was only the sixth player in LSU history to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. He was also named permanent team captain and was the recipient of the Charles McClendon Award, which goes to the most outstanding player on the team.
2015 NFL Draft
La’el Collins was regarded as a surefire first-round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and slotted to be selected in the top 10 by many draft analysts.
Circumstances out of his control caused him to slip in the draft because it was announced that the Louisiana State police had scheduled a talk with Collins in regards to the shooting death of a woman he had a previous relationship with. It was a historic and unprecedented draft day slide, especially considering the fact that Collins wasn’t even considered a suspect in the crime.
La’el Collins ended up going undrafted after his agent threatened that Collins would sit out the entire 2015 season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft if any team drafted him after the third round.
Collins signed with the Dallas Cowboys on May 7, 2015 after going undrafted and was rewarded with a fully guaranteed three-year contract and a $21,000 signing bonus.
La’el Collins played in 12 games at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys in his first year in the NFL and ended up starting 11 of those games.
Collins opened the season as a reserve guard, but ended up seeing extensive action in his second game for the Dallas Cowboys as a part of a rotation with Ronald Leary, who was battling an injury.
La’el Collins was named the starter for the third game and ended up passing Leary on the depth chart, but he wasn’t officially named the starting left guard until the week 6 bye.
He continued to remain the starter at left guard throughout the season, until the final game of the season against the Washington Redskins when he was declared inactive with a high ankle sprain.
Like many first-year players in the NFL, La’el Collins made plenty of rookie mistakes, but he also made plenty of highlight-reel worthy plays. The most memorable play he made was against the Seattle Seahawks, where he pancaked two different Seahawk defenders on one running play.
La’el Collins is looking to improve in his second season in the NFL and a full off-season will help improve the chemistry between Collins and his fellow linemen Tyron Smith, and Travis Frederick.
I wouldn’t be surprised if La’el Collins ends up being voted into his first Pro Bowl based on his 2016 performance at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys.
La’el Collins signed a three-year, fully guaranteed contract worth $1,599,500 with a $21,000 signing bonus for the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. Collins will make an average of $533,167 per season. He is entering the second year of his three-year deal and will make $526,750 in 2016 and $616,750 in 2017.
The Dallas Cowboys will have a tough decision to make in regards to which offensive lineman they will be able to re-sign. Travis Frederick and Zack Martin are also both looking to earn long-term contracts with the Cowboys and it will be interesting to see if the organization can re-sign all three.