Cowboys: La’el Collins Must Move To OT


Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins needs to make the switch from offensive guard to offensive tackle immediately.

I expect that the Dallas Cowboys will move rookie undrafted free agent La’el Collins over to tackle pretty soon. There really doesn’t seem to be any other option less than three weeks away from the season opener against the New York Giants.

The idea, at least to this point, has been to develop Collins at guard where he can backup, or even over take Ronald Leary at left guard, specifically. While he’s probably capable of doing that, especially given that the Cowboys have no fear of starting a rookie on the offensive line, it doesn’t look like this is a viable option.

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The Dallas offense has already had one quarterback knocked out of action due to poor protection and has looked pretty tepid throughout the preseason. Just two touchdowns have been scored against both the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers.

The reality here is that Darrion Weems is not ready for playing time in the NFL. The third-year veteran journeyman out of Oregon just looks like Pac-12 competition is about all he’s capable of handling. He has not and will not match his starting status once enjoyed at University of Oregon several years ago.

I’ll put it this way: If Weems was destined for starting status in the NFL, much like last year’s third offensive tackle Jermey Parnell was, Dallas would probably already know by now.

The Cowboys selected Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft just a few months ago in hopes that he would be the answer to the departed Parnell. This idea hasn’t worked, and apparently won’t this year given his injury situation that looks like it’s going to linger for quite some time – this player has never been known for his durability.

So, the bonus of getting Collins after he was completely snubbed during the ’15 draft is as clear as crystal.

Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar actually projects Collins in this very role this week. Remember that Collins carried no worse than a mid-first round grade heading into the draft last spring and only the bizarre legal situation that he faced caused his plummet out of the event altogether.

You can see exactly what Collins is capable of in the included link above.

One of the toughest things to find in the NFL is a franchise left tackle, let alone a solid backup that can step in and maintain the fort in the event the starter goes down. There’s no other position more responsible for protecting the quarterback than left tackle – right tackle is obviously the next most important.

If one of those two go down, it’s vital to have that player like Parnell, who started seven games last year in the absence of starter Doug Free. I could be a tad off here, but I don’t believe that Parnell allowed a single sack down the stretch last season.

Can Collins be that good?

I believe so – and soon.

This would obviously require a position change, but this is nothing new for Dallas, or for Collins actually.

We can go all the way back to the days of Hall-of-Fame lineman Larry Allen for a great example of an elite blocker that has the versatility to play both inside and out, but can also do both in dominant fashion.

I’m not quite ready to put Allen and Collins in the same sentence, but the same article isn’t a stretch, right?

Even last season rookie offensive tackle Zack Martin went from the right side at Notre Dame to right guard for the Cowboys during a season in which the team went from 8-8 in 2013 to 12-4 his rookie season – and he made the Pro Bowl.

Collins can move inside to a starting job at guard at any time, especially seeing as how this is in some ways an easier position to play than guard. Right now he’s a heck of a lot more accustomed to playing outside than he is inside. It’s probably a good idea to capitalize on those strengths right now and worry about the future down the road.

Yes, the future for Collins appears to be much brighter than that of a backup. Despite being capable of possibly starting right now, he’s also coming to the Cowboys at a time when there’s already three Pro Bowl players in place when you include left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick.

For now, guaranteeing the protection of quarterback Tony Romo is paramount to the success of the Cowboys, a team that claims aspirations of appearing in Super Bowl L.

Next: Cowboys: Orlando Scandrick Lost For Season

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