La’El Collins could have declared early for the NFL Draft one year ago but elected to stay one more season in Baton Rouge. Now it’s his time to shine and he’s ready, willing and able to show the entire National Football League what this offensive tackle is all about.
“I am a guy that’s confident in my playing ability,” Collins said. “I am ready to come into the NFL. I am coachable and I want to be the best. I am ready to compete, that’s why I came here to the combine. I will be competing in all the drills. I tried to have the same mentality in Mobile [at Senior Bowl]. I want to show teams that I have nothing to hide.”
Collins, 6-foot-5, 321-pounds, wasn’t always a star on offense. He first started out on the other side of the ball.
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“For me, I started out playing defense,” Collins said. “I certainly played more defense than offense. Then I made the transition to offense having that defensive mentality. I brought that over. Plus, I have the intelligence with that mentality and I was ready to get after it.”
Collins, from Baton Rouge (La.) Redemptorist, was a five-star prospect and the nation’s No. 2 rated offensive tackle coming out of high school. He decided to stay home and hone his skills at LSU. Playing for the Tigers and in the SEC helped him become the player he is today. After all, he was called to battled each and every Saturday against teams like Alabama, Auburn, Florida and all the other top-notch programs in college football’s top league and best players.
“To compete at the SEC level each week was huge for me,” Collins said. “In the SEC you have to play at a high level each week. You have to prepare and do your homework.”
“[Dante] Fowler was good and our matchups were really good. I would watch him and break him down and look at everything. But that’s what you have to do every week. That’s how you have to prepare for every game. But he was a great player.”
Now he will join another LSU fraternity in the professional ranks like his former teammates Odell Beckham, Jr., Jeremy Hill, Lamin Barrow, Jarvis Landry, Tyrann Mathieu, Zach Mettenberger and 37 others.
“LSU prepares you for this,” Collins said. “There are LSU guys everywhere in the NFL. Just go and look back and they are making impacts everywhere on teams. I am going to be the next guy that does that.”
Collins, the No. 2 rated offensive guard in the Scout draft rankings and a projected first round pick, started playing football when he was eight years old. But it didn’t hit Collins until high school that he may have a chance to play in the NFL.
“I started playing football in the third grade,” Collins said. “I didn’t start thinking about the NFL until I got my first scholarship offer in high school. Then I understood that I have an opportunity to do what I enjoy doing. I want to compete. I am a competitor.”
Which bring us to today, in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. Collins is ready for whatever is thrown at him during the interview process and for the challenges of the combine itself.
“There is no magic to it,” Collins said. “You work and you train every day for this. You just come out here and be you. I look to excel.”
Then he will continue to work and wait, as the NFL Draft is still two plus months away. Deep down Collins believes he’s ready.
“I think I can [play] in every aspect of the game,” Collins said. “That’s what made me the player that I am. I can run block. I can pass block. I take the same initiative on every play and just do my job. I take that mentality on every down.”
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Part 1 - Daddy, where are NFL players from?
Part 2- Where do student-athletes major in the NFL?
Part 3 - Drafted vs Undrafted Players
Part 4 – Positional Breakdowns of the NFL: Where are they from?
Part 5 - NFL Veterans: Where are they from?
Part 6 – Top NFL Producing High Schools