#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.
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.
I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.
Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.
Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.
After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.
This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.
If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.
With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.
He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
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