2015 NFL Draft Profile: OT La’el Collins


Let’s look at another prospect from this week’s NFL draft.

We have been talking for weeks now about the potential prospects that the Jets could take in this draft. The discussion has been mainly focused on edge pass rushers and wide receivers. You guys know how I feel here. Edge pass rusher is the most important position to me with the number six pick, followed by wide receiver. But, another viable draft choice to make would be offensive line.

The Jets need to start rebuilding their offensive line, and the draft is a great place to start. If the Jets go this route, it won’t be the exciting selection, but it would be a safe one. Plugging a guy like Brandon Scherff into the lineup would be an immediate upgrade. We have already talked about the young man from Iowa, but there is another prospect that is very much worth our time this afternoon.

Today’s focus is on a young player that some of the fan base prefers to Brandon Scherff, should the Jets go offensive line. Today we are focusing on La’el Collins from LSU.

With no stats to look at, we jump right ahead to how Collins performed at the NFL Combine.

At Indianapolis, Collins ran the Forty in 5.12 seconds. He bench pressed 21 reps. Collins’ vertical jump went 27 inches, and his broad jump was nine feet. Here are his strengths and weaknesses from Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide:

STRENGTHS: Well-proportioned frame with solid upper and lower body thickness…large hands and adequate length…squares his shoulders and plays with a strong base and natural anchor, making him tough to move or bully – doesn’t play on his heels…strong at the point of attack to sustain with grip strength and stout wrists,jolting and redirecting defenders…physical mentality and not shy using his brute power to be a people mover with his aggressive punch…functional mobility to be effective blocking in motion and at the second level…displays coordination on combination blocks, making contact on initial target before disengaging to pick up another defender…dependable finisher once he gets his hands on defenders as a run blocker, playing with a mean streak and consistent intensity…sells out each snap and plays with a chip on his shoulder, taking each play personally with the will to defeat his opponent…vocal team leader and not afraid to call out his teammates and hold them accountable – durable and led LSU in snaps in 2014…three-year starter in the SEC (38 career starts) with playing time at both tackle and guard.

WEAKNESSES: Constantly lunges and leans with his upper half and falls off blocks, struggling to maintain his technique through contact…ends up on the ground too much with chaotic mechanics, starting with his base…average-at-best snap quickness and doesn’t consistently explode out of his stance to cut off speed on the edges– too often the last lineman to move off the ball…tends to labor in his kickslide with shuffle footwork that is more choppy than fluid…inconsistent footwork once engaged and relies on his upper body to get the job done…will struggle at times to decipher blitzes and tends to get mixed up with multiple rushers – needs to improve his focus and awareness…too grabby and lack of elite length shows at times as long-armed rushers get into his frame and knock him off-balance…allows his pads to rise and doesn’t rely on leverage…needs to improve his angles in the run game to better wall off lanes.

Let’s take a look at Collins’ performance against Wisconsin last September:

La’el Collins is tough. When he gets his hands up into his opponent, he drives him out of the play. Collins will be a terrific run blocker in the NFL. He takes his man out. His motor is clear. La’el Collins doesn’t give up on the play. I don’t see a huge problem with his footwork, although Collins is a bit slow coming out of his stance at the snap. A guy like Justin Houston would eat a slow tackle at the snap for lunch, so that will need to improve.

Collins does lunge a bit, as Brugler noted. When he is driving forward, notice on the tape that he leans forward, rather than staying upright. Collins is relying on upper body strength, rather than using his legs. A stronger NFL lineman will take him out if he lunges too much.

But, I agree that on the inside, Collins projects as a guard quite well, and would make an immediate impact on the New York Jets, should they decide to give him a look on draft day.

Next: Three Kiper/McShay Choices for the New York Jets

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