The Dallas Cowboys made some bold decisions this offseason but one of the boldest is quietly starting to pay off for them
When the Dallas Cowboys heard incumbent starting right tackle, Doug Free, intended to retire this season, they had a decision to make. Should they find an established veteran to man the spot or should they roll the dice with their most promising young linemen, La’el Collins?
Clearly we all know which route they chose (the latter). The boldness of the decision was magnified by the departure of starting guard, Ronald Leary. No longer were the Cowboys going to replace one position on their offensive line, but now two positions. The backbone of the team, the offensive line, was now in the midst of an overhaul.
Many of us in the fans and media were unsure how the Cowboys would handle the process. Little did we know, early on, Dallas informed their blue chip prospect, La’el Collins, he’d be moving from guard to tackle and he should prepare accordingly.
Collins, a former tackle at LSU, was the obvious choice to get first crack at right tackle. He had the ability and pedigree that indicated he was the most capable. Veteran lineman, Byron Bell, was added as insurance but it was clear from the start Dallas made the job Collins’ to lose.
They were so sure of it they proactively extended Collins’ contract two more seasons to forge some stability in coming years.
But things didn’t start great for La’el Collins as the starting right tackle. Collins struggled in his new role and the rest of the line struggled incorporating him, and the revolving door at left guard, into their unit.
Collins’ strength was clearing in his ability to run block, but even that was subpar through most of the season.
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Recently, things have started to turn in a positive direction.
The inevitable growing pains that came with a young player who’s new to a position and new to the unit, are starting to pay off. The past two weeks La’el Collins has played quite well. Not just in run blocking but also in pass protection.
Some may want to discredit Collins’ improvement based on the teams he has recently thrived against. That would be misguided. While the New York Giants and Washington Redskins may be performing poorly as a team, both boast excellent edge rushers.
Last week La’el Collins scored an impressive 82.5 performance score from profootballfocus.com. If he can continue what he’s done the past two weeks, he could make the Cowboys running game an unstoppable force for years to come. Even with a revolving door at left guard.
La’el Collins has quietly gone from a liability to an asset this season. The Dallas Cowboys took a gamble and committed to develop their youngest, most promising prospect. And that is starting to pay off now.
The Cowboys made some big moves this season, perhaps none bigger than moving La’el Collins to starting right tackle. But that move is starting to pay off now and since the Cowboys proactively extended his contract, the move will continue to pay for the foreseeable future.