As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all offseason; these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
Today we focus on a prospect that could possibly flip the steel curtain to the offensive side of the ball. We are evaluating La’el Collins.
#70 – La’el Collins/ OT|OG LSU: 6044, 305lbs.
-Ideal frame for NFL offensive lineman
-Has versatility: can play tackle or guard
-Has some nasty/grittiness to his game
-Excellent footwork, quick and keeps balance
-Powerful in the run game
-Strong, doesn’t get bullied
-Keeps a good base and his shoulders squared in pass protection
-Strength helps absorb blitzers, handles them well
-Gets to the 2nd level
-Pulled even as a tackle
-If he gets beat, he redeems himself and doesn’t let it hinder his future play
-A mean player, loves to maul and win every down
-Conditioned, was never lazy or looked tired
-Will thrive in zone blocking scheme, carries weight well
-Displays a good kick slide in pass protection
-Three year starter
-Needs to bring hips and feet with him, sometimes loses balance
-Ends up on the ground too much
-Over extends at times
-Would like to see him stay engaged with his blocks longer
-Some missed assignments
-Relies on lunging, needs to stay balanced and use feet to present power
-Chop blocks at goal line rather than using his power and strength
-Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
-2014 Second Team All-America (USA Today, AP)
-2014 Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner (top offensive lineman in the SEC)
-2014 First Team All-SEC (Coaches, AP)
-2013 Second Team All-SEC (Coaches)
-2011 CBSSports.com Freshman All-American
– Started at left guard as a sophomore
-Played in 45 games with 38 starts during his career
-Saw action on a total of 2,533 offensive snaps with 222.5 knockdowns
-Turned down an opportunity to enter the NFL Draft following his junior season
-Voted permanent team captain
-Named the recipient of the Charles McClendon Award ( most outstanding player on the team)
Collins is a natural athlete. He has some experience at guard but most of his experience is at tackle. In the NFL, he could be used at either tackle or guard but his best play would be at guard. Playing guard would highlight his best attributes.
He really plays mean and has some nastiness to his game. Here, you can tell that he has something to prove. He sticks to his assignment and doesn’t stop mauling until he pancakes him. Love this attitude and he needs to play like this every down. Willie Colon anyone?
It’s really important in the NFL as an offensive lineman to be able to get to the 2nd level. Which means, past the first level of defensive lineman, to the 2nd level which is the linebackers. Here is a great demonstration on how that is done and done well. He has the speed and strength to do this.
The biggest knock I could observe on Collins is that he seems to end up on the ground FAR too much. This is how you get hurt. He needs to stay on his feet and stay balanced. Here, he totally misses his block and winds up on the ground where other players end up on top of him. Not a good place to be.
An important part of being a pass protector is your kick slide. It’s basically a shuffle that mirrors the pass rushers and doesn’t let him close in on the quarterback. Here, Collins demonstrates his kick slide and arcs the pass rusher out so he is not threat to the quarterback.
In the run game, Collins is Justas efficient. He is a true mauler with attitude and that is a great thing. On this first GIF, he handles soon to be projected top-10 pick Dante Fowler well and washes him out of the play. In the second GIF, he engages his defender and out-powers him and ends up pancaking him. Love both of these qualities as they are vital in being a successful offensive lineman in the NFL.
Another knock on Collins is that he will either not fully engage with defenders or he will disengage too soon. It is important to stay engaged with a defender so they don’t shed the block and make the tackle. In these GIFs, he overextends a tad bit but he disengaged too soon and let the defender shed him and make the tackle.
In pass protection, it is important to keep a good base and shoulders squared to the defender. This makes it a lot harder for the rusher to successfully use finesse moves or beat a lineman in any way. Here, he mirrors perfectly, keeps a good base and keeps his shoulders squared. The quarterback is able to pass the ball with no threat from the left side.
After four games, I came up with one conclusion: Collins is good, really good. He has tremendous upside, and with good coaching, he will be superb in the NFL. He should be a day 1 starter, but the Steelers have Ramon Foster under contract and don’t like to rush rookies onto the field. I spoiled it by bringing up Foster, but I can see Collins being an NFL guard. He could play tackle, but it would be limited to right tackle. He is only 6’4” and has 33 ¼ inch arms (which are shorter than Brandon Scherff’s). With Foster turning 29 and at the end of his contract, Collins could be a replacement and evidently, an upgrade. He has all the tools to be a top NFL guard and all of his flaws are minor and easily fixed. Should Collins slide to 22 and Kevin Colbert on his ‘best player available’ strategy, Collins could be the future left guard and make the Steelers’ offensive line the best it has been in years.
Games Watched: 2014 vs Wisconsin, 2014 vs Ole Miss, 2014 at Auburn, 2014 at Florida
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