#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.
Cowboys Reunion with WR Brice Butler Makes No Sense
The Dallas Cowboys have brought back Wide Receiver Brice Butler, who was with the team from 2015-2017. The reunion is a head-scratching move given the team's current stockpile of receivers, and especially given Butler's lack of impact during his previous run in Dallas.
There's no question that Dallas could use some more juice in the passing game. So far the post-Witten, post-Bryant era has only seen 165 yards-per-game out of Dak Prescott and his current receiving options.
I can understand the Cowboys getting antsy about this low production. I can understand the feeling that waiting for chemistry to develop between Dak and new faces like Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, or any one of these young tight ends, could be damaging to the season.
But when you need a spark in the offense, it seems odd to turn to a guy who was in your system for three years and never had a huge game.
Let's just look at Butler's top five statistical performances as a Cowboy:
- 5 catches, 41 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 4, 2016)
- 2 catches, 90 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 3, 2017)
- 2 catches, 50 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 17, 2017)
- 4 catches, 74 yards (Week 16, 2015)
- 4 catches, 60 yards (Week 17, 2015)
No games with over 100 yards. No games with more than five catches. No games with more than one touchdown.
I'm not trying to slam Brice here. He is what he is. This is all about trying to understand the logic of the Cowboys' front office in making this move.
If the idea was to bring in a guy who Dak Prescott had more familiarity with, then why not give Terrance Williams more playing time? He's already on the roster and buried on the depth chart, getting the fewest snaps of all the WRs last week.
If you've followed my work for long, you know I'm no fan of Williams. But even I can admit that he's been more productive and effective in this offense than Brice Butler ever was.
If you're bringing in Butler to be a vertical threat, isn't that what you signed veteran Deonte Thompson for? Last year, playing for two different teams with shaky QB situations, Thompson had 38 catches for 555 yards. Brice hasn't had a single season close to that.
What about Tavon Austin? Just three days ago, Austin had a 64-yard touchdown. Did we really need another guy for field stretching? And even if so, what in Butler's history indicates he can do something that Thompson or Austin can't?
Don't forget about Hurns, Gallup, or Cole Beasley either. They're not vertical receivers, but they're still the top three guys in the offense.
If you're a Brice Butler fan, you've likely argued that his lack of production in Dallas was from a lack of opportunities. That may be true, but how has that changed in 2018? There are more mouths to feed than ever at WR.
What is Butler going to do now, that he didn't for three years, to earn more looks?
If Dallas was really concerned about adding an offensive spark, the opportunity was out there this week with Josh Gordon. The Patriots got him for a conditional 5th-round pick from Cleveland just yesterday.
I can understand why Dallas, given recent issues with Randy Gregory and David Irving, were reluctant to add a player with such a notorious history of substance abuse. But if the no-nonsense Patriots were willing to give him a shot, why not the far more liberal Cowboys?
If Gordon was one problem child too many, what about Jordan Matthews? The former 2nd-round pick is still just 26 (Butler is 28) and had over 800 yards in each year from 2014-2016. He had a down year in Buffalo in 2017, as anyone would, and then didn't make the Patriots squad this year due to an injury.
Whether it's on your own roster or out in the open market, there seem to be profitable options than Brice Butler. The chance for him to be the next Laurent Robinson came and went; the same QB and the same Offensive Coordinator are here.
Is there really some juice left to squeeze here?
There's an old saying that, "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any." I think the same logic applies to having seven wide receivers. There was already a logjam, and Dallas didn't even cut one of them to make room for Butler.
So yeah, I don't get it. I'm perplexed why they added anyone at all, this early in the year, while their current receivers are all healthy and still trying to find their role in the offense.
And if the Cowboys really felt that had to make a move, why the heck did they bring back this guy?
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers
The Dallas Cowboys will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to face the Seattle Seahawks in an important game for both teams in the NFC race.
The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 and risk being buried in an NFC West that has seen the Los Angeles Rams become the divisional power. With the San Francisco 49ers trending up, the Seahawks might find themselves left behind. On Monday Night Football, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had little answers for a Chicago Bears team that has one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL. Well, maybe not so underrated now. They battered Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line for six sacks and were able to pressure him into an interception they were able to return for a touchdown.
The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a week one disappointment to take care of business against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It wasn't a pretty win on offense, save for the first and last drives of the game, but it was a solid win. The defense dominated the New York Giants' offensive line and left them searching for answers at 0-2.
As we get ready for week three let's go Inside The Numbers for yet another important matchup for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-8, but have dropped the last two matchups and are 2-3 over the last five games. They've split the last two meetings that played in Seattle, winning the most recent showdown in 2014, 30-23.
If you'll remember, that was the game that had us all believing that Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led Cowboys team was for real. Sadly the 2014 season ended with the typical heartbreak that we've grown accustomed to in the last 23 years.
Let's take a look at how the matchup breaks down on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks offenses are eerily similar statistically as both rank near the bottom in most offensive categories.
As you can see from the chart above, there aren't many categories where either team ranks inside the top 20 in total offense.
- The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage along the offensive line. They rank inside the top 15 in rush yards, rush TDs, first downs on the ground, and have allowed fewer sacks than the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.
- The Dallas Cowboys have been excellent through two games at protecting the ball, having only turned it over one time; a fumble by Dak Prescott in the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers.
- Through two games, the Seahawks haven't rushed for a touchdown. They haven't run it often and haven't run it very well either. They only average 3.6 yards per attempt on the ground. Advantage Cowboys.
- While the Seahawks have thrown for more yards this season, Dak Prescott has a better completion percentage. For the year, Russell Wilson has completed only 59.4% of his passes. Dak Prescott is at 64.8%.
It's on the defensive side of the ball where the Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage, particularly with their pass rush.
As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys have the statistical edge in nearly every category.
- The Dallas Cowboys rank in the top five in several defensive categories including points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns, net yards per attempt, first downs achieved through the air, and sacks.
- Where the Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the first two games, particularly against the Carolina Panthers was against the run. Though they're around the middle of the pack through two games, the Panthers were able to find a lot of success on the ground. The New York Giants, not so much.
- The Cowboys are going to have to continue to be careful with the football as the Seattle Seahawks continue to be one of the best at creating turnovers, especially in the secondary. They're tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with five. Through two games, Prescott hasn't thrown one, but he's had a couple potential interceptions dropped. This week he won't be so lucky.
What it All Means
The Dallas Cowboys are going to have a pretty difficult challenge corralling Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson, but the numbers seem to point to it being a long afternoon for Wilson.
The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage when the Seahawks drop back to pass. The Seattle offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Coming off allowing six sacks to the Chicago Bears, Wilson could be in for another long day against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is second in the NFL -- to the Chicago Bears -- in sacks with nine.
The Seattle Seahawks won't be able to rely on their running game to keep the Dallas Cowboys defense off balance as they only average 3.4 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season. If the Cowboys can get an early lead this Sunday, it will present a really favorable opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks Stat Notes
Dak Prescott hasn't thrown an interception this season. If we can make any observations through two games, it's that he seems to be back to his ball protection ways. As a rookie, Prescott only through four interceptions, before doubling that in 2017 with eight.
Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson are tied for 27th in the NFL in yards per route run. That number is better than Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings, Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Seattle Seahawks have had a hard time getting to opposing passers and have collected only three sacks through the NFL's first two weeks. Prescott was sacked six times in week one, but the Dallas Cowboys offensive line rebounded to keep the New York Giants from collecting a sack in week two.
Tyler Lockett has played 53 of his 79 offensive snaps from the slot, but has only been targeted four times, catching four passes for 85 yards. His 1.60 yards per route run out of the slot is tied for 11th in the NFL among players who have played at least 50% of their snaps from the slot.
Seattle Defensive Lineman Jarran Reed has been the best run defender for the Seahawks, earning a run stop on 13.5% of his run snaps. Overall he sits eighth in the NFL. Among defensive lineman with at least 50% of their team's run snaps, only Da'Shawn Hand and Linval Joseph have a better run stop percentage.
The amount of snaps per reception allowed by Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Anthony Brown. No player who has played at least 50% of his coverage snaps in the slot has a higher snap per reception rate in the NFL than Brown's 19.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson's been sacked on 36.4% of his drop backs this season. Only Ryan Tannehill and Nathan Peterman have a worse percentage of players who have dropped back to pass a minimum of 22 times this season.
Wilson's been under pressure on 38.8% of his drop backs, which is sixth in the NFL.
Dak Prescott's adjusted completion percentage, which "accounts for factors that hurt the passer's completion percentage but don't help show how accurate they are," per Pro Football Focus and "It accounts for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the QB was hit while they threw the ball."
Prescott's adjusted completion percentage is ninth in the NFL. Better than notable names such as Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ben Roethlisberger, DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Luck.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
As I look at the run down for this game and after watching these two teams in week two, I see this as a very favorable matchup for the Dallas Cowboys. Obviously, statistics don't tell the whole story, but the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength, it's pass rush, will be facing a Seattle team that is very weak along the offensive line.
This looks to be a Dallas Cowboys win that will improve them to 2-1.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
Week 6 Own by nfl
Game Notes4 days ago
Cowboys Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch May Be New Starter at SAM
Player News3 days ago
Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler
Game Notes2 days ago
Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants
Player News1 week ago
Cowboys Sign G Xavier Su’a-Filo; Impact on Connor Williams?
Game Notes1 week ago
CAR 16, DAL 8: Cowboys Open Flat, Fall Short to Panthers
Game Notes2 weeks ago
Why Cowboys Rookie DE Dorance Armstrong is the Pass Rusher to Watch in Carolina
Game Notes2 days ago
3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the New York Giants
Game Notes1 week ago
3 Stars from the Dallas Cowboys Week 1 Loss to the Carolina Panthers