Each Wednesday of the college football season NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Prospect of the Week. To qualify, the player must have played a significant role in their team's performance against a quality opponent, demonstrating not only effectiveness as the collegiate level but the rare traits to demand the attention of pro scouts, as well.
Top Prospect of Week 13: LSU Offensive Tackle La'el Collins
Getting overlooked comes with the territory when playing along the offensive line.
And considering the dominating performance LSU collectively provided in a 34-10 victory over Texas A&M last Saturday, it would be easy to overlook the efforts of the blockers once again. After all, the Tigers' defense shut down the magical Johnny Manziel and his equally mesmerizing wideout, Mike Evans, deserving kudos. Further, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger enjoyed one of the cleaner games of his career, wideout Jarvis Landry made big play after big play and Terrence Magee broke free from Les Miles' stable of running backs to run for a career high 149 yards and touchdown.
For all of the focus on the so-called skill position players in this contest, however, LSU beat up on the Aggies because they controlled the line of scrimmage -- and no one was more impressive in doing so than the Tigers' junior left tackle.
Overshadowed by A&M's stellar combination of Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi, Collins quietly paved clear avenues in the running game and provided stellar pass protection for Mettenberger to slice apart the Aggies' secondary. The 6-foot-5, 315 pound junior showed the ability to simply drive the defensive end off the ball as well as release to take out linebackers at the second level to spring Magee for a 65 yard jaunt in the first quarter to set up LSU's first touchdown. Three plays later Magee followed his massive teammate into the end zone for the score, establishing a pattern that, unfortunately for the Aggies, would be repeated over and over again.
By the time the game was over the only numbers more lopsided in LSU's favor than the final score was their dominance in the running game. LSU ran for 324 yards against the Aggies but allowed just 75 yards to Manziel and A&M's own stable of future NFL runners.
Dominating in the running game wasn't a surprise considering Collins' previous two seasons as a starter at guard. While built more like a guard with a somewhat portly build, Collins' also demonstrated surprisingly light feet and the long, strong arms to latch on and control in pass protection. Just as he showed the ability to make switch and effectively block two men on one play in the running game, Collins' ability to punch oncoming defenders before switching off to handle twists and the occasional surprise blitz made him a true difference-maker in pass protection, as well. Collins provided just such a combination on Mettenberger's first touchdown strike to Landry early in the second quarter and on several occasions thereafter as the Aggies became increasingly desperate to pressure the relatively immobile senior quarterback.
In a game boasting as many flashy NFL prospects as this one, it would be easy to overlook Collins' dominant performance. In much this same way, as the January 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare early for the NFL draft approaches, expect there to be much more buzz about LSU's "other" potentially draft-eligible juniors and redshirt sophomores.
Make no mistake, however, the role Collins' played in LSU's surprisingly easy victory Saturday over the Aggies and the high grade the versatile and talented offensive lineman is likely to earn from the NFL Advisory Committee. Don't be surprised, in fact, should Collins be in the running to be the first player drafted out of LSU this year should the junior elect to leave early.
Prospect of the Week Archives:
Week 1: Alabama WR/RS Christion Jones
Week 2: Miami LB Denzel Perryman
Week 3: Washington RB Bishop Sankey
Week 4: Fresno State QB Derek Carr
Week 5: Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
Week 6: TCU CB Jason Verrett
Week 7: Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
Week 8: Florida State OLB Telvin Smith
Week 9: Stanford DE/OLB Trent Murphy
Week 10: Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
Week 11: Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Week 12: Boston College RB Andre Williams