The downfield passing and drive-blocking run game preferred by offensive coordinator Norv Turner put a lot of pressure on the offensive line last season. Collins starred at left tackle for LSU but projects best to guard, where he could prove a quick upgrade over current left guard Charlie Johnson. Collins' brute strength and tenacity make him one of the draft's elite run blockers.
After going defense at pick No. 12, the Browns look to offense with this pick, addressing another weak spot on the offensive line. It doesn't always look pretty with Collins, but he gets the job done and projects best at right tackle or guard.
The Giants have had great success tapping into LSU talent and look no further than last year's pick, Odell Beckham. Collins is just what the Giants need because of his versatility. He can play any of the offensive line spots and would provide the Giants the opportunity to re-arrange up front.
STRENGTHS: Collins sports a thick, powerful frame that makes him about as difficult to move as a chest freezer. His frame belies his quick feet, an attribute that when combined with his long arms, impressive strength and aggression make him a devastating run blocker. Collins is often the quickest of LSU's offensive linemen off the snap and he routinely drives his assignment off the line of scrimmage with pure power, creating easy running lanes for LSU's backs. He's surprisingly quick to the second level and has good body control to adjust to moving targets. As a pass blocker, Collins shows good initial quickness in his kick-slide and uses his long reach to maintain the arc. When he gets his hands on opponents and remains square, it is generally lights out for the defender. Collins showed his willingness to potentially convert inside, impressing on a few snaps at left guard at the Senior Bowl.
WEAKNESSES: He does not possess elite balance and can be challenged by speed-rushers. He'll over-compensate occasionally and leave the inside open for counters. Collins' aggression is admirable but also leads to mistakes. Rather than patiently waiting for defenders to come to him, Collins will occasionally lunge, making himself top-heavy and prone to slipping down the body of his opponent. This can lead to his hands getting too low or slipping onto the side and/or back of defenders, which invites them to swim over the top of him to disengage.
PLAYER COMPARISON: James Carpenter, Seattle: Collins is a better athlete than Carpenter and therefore may be likelier to remain outside than Alabama's former tackle, who has since become a mauling run blocker at left guard with the Seahawks.
There are two basic truths evaluators have grown used to when scouting LSU - for one, the team will be loaded with talent. Second, the talent is so rich so that the best players rarely use all of their collegiate eligibility before leaving for the NFL. Unlike many of his former teammates, Collins elected to return for his senior season despite the fact that he reportedly earned a first round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.
Collins certainly did nothing to harm that grade in 2014, putting forth yet another dominant campaign at left tackle for the Tigers and following that up with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.
Collins earned immediate playing time for the Tigers as a true freshman, playing in seven games at left guard. He took over the starting position a year later, leading the team in total snaps (846) and knockdown blocks (64.5) while earning Honorable Mention honors from the AP. Collins made the switch to left tackle as a junior, earning second-team All-SEC accolades from league coaches and posting another 65 knockdown blocks despite missing one game (Furman) due to injury.
Collins possesses a square-ish build that makes him appear better suited to guard. His combination of surprisingly light feet, bullish power and competitiveness could earn him Pro Bowl nods. He's quick enough to remain at tackle for power-running teams, which only makes Collins that much more valuable in the eyes of scouts.
02/17/2015 - 2015 DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64 DRAFT PROSPECTS: 13/3. La'el Collins, OT, LSU, 6-5, 308, 5.12, 1...Here is a mean-spirited offensive lineman with potential to play right tackle or either guard position in the NFL, but does not have the pass-blocking ability needed to be a left tackle. On running plays, Collins can launch his broad, muscular frame straight forward with alarming quickness, then engage the strength of his lower body and massive hands (10 3/4 inches) to steer defenders out of harm's way. Although he can get to the next level, he is not nimble enough to be an effective open-field blocker. Collins is improving as a pass blocker, but too much aggression and not enough balance make him susceptible to both speed rushers and end/tackle games that require patience he does not have. Like most good linemen, Collins studies and understands what he sees on film and will eventually mature enough to respond correctly on the field. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange