Draft Path: La'el Collins

From high school to the NFL Draft, Tiger Sports Digest is giving a deeper look into offensive line prospect La'el Collins.

The 2015 NFL Draft runs from Thursday through Saturday, and Tiger Sports Digest is breaking down each LSU prospect – the player’s journey from high school and what he brings to a professional franchise – likely to be selected in the seven rounds.

Next up is senior offensive lineman La’el Collins, a dominant three-year starter up front for the Tigers capable of playing guard and tackle.

COLLINS IN HIGH SCHOOL


Among the best offensive linemen the state of Louisiana has ever produced, Collins was a can’t-miss prospect exiting Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge in spring 2011.


A consensus five-star player via all the recruiting services, Collins was voted a First-Team Parade All-American and Scout deemed him the No. 11 overall player and second-rated offensive tackle in the country.

Collins was a left tackle during his prep days but wasn’t tested a ton in pass-blocking. That’s because he was a mauler in the run game and was leading the way for Jeremy Hill, a future teammate at LSU and now a young standout back for the Cincinnati Bengals.

He was, along with receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, one of the centerpieces of arguably a top-three recruiting class in school history. (A slightly lesser-known player named Odell Beckham from that 2011 class, dubbed “The Fam,” turned out okay, too.)

Here’s footage of Collins in his junior season of 2009 in a game versus Woodlawn High School.



COLLINS IN COLLEGE


In 2011, Collins’ freshman season, LSU went 13-0 in the regular season and had a very experienced offensive line. Although he did play sparingly, that gave Collins the opportunity to bulk up in weight, preparing for a transitional year as a sophomore.

It was that season that saw Collins take over as the Tigers’ starter at left guard, a position he began to learn the year prior as a rookie.

He went on to start all 13 games as a sophomore, leading the team in total snaps played and knockdown blocks. The Associated Press recognized Collins’ play, tabbing him Honorable Mention All-SEC.

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2011: 46 snaps, 5 knockdowns
2012: 836 snaps, 64.5 knockdowns
2013: 808 snaps, 65 knockdowns
2014: 843 snaps, 88 knockdowns

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As a junior Collins made the move back out to his familiar haunt at left tackle, starting 12 games and protecting for one of the best quarterback seasons in the history of the program, authored by current Tennessee Titan Zach Mettenberger.

Jeremy Hill also ran wild in that 2013 season, mainly behind the left side, totaling 1,401 yards and 16 scores on the ground. His old high school running mate was a big reason behind the success, resulting in a Second-Team All-SEC nod for Collins by the league’s coaches.

Collins then did something very un-LSU-like, opting to return for his senior campaign.

In his swan-song season Collins kept climbing the ladder, becoming a First-Team All-SEC pick and the Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, handed out annually to the top SEC offensive lineman. Collins was also selected by LSU’s coaches as the team MVP.

All-told Collins played in 45 games in TigerTown, starting 38 times.

Check out a recent video interview with Collins following LSU Pro Day on March 27.



NEXT LEVEL PROJECTION


At the NFL Scouting Combine, Collins weighed in at 305 pounds and stood 6-foot-4. He goes into the Draft viewed by some as an offensive tackle while others see him as a better fit at guard.

His 40-yard-dash time was 5.12 seconds and Collins’ posted a vertical jump of 27 inches while at the Combine in Indianapolis.

Other measurables: Arm – 33.25 inches; Hand – 10.375 inches; Wingspan – 81.875 inches (6-9.875).

For a complete player evaluation click on the link below, which will take you to a write-up done by Dave-Te’ Thomas, a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League.




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