La’el Collins: Cowboys offensive line will be best in NFL history
By Andrea Hangst
The Dallas Cowboys introduced the newest member of their roster on Thursday, presenting offensive lineman La’el Collins to the awaiting media after signing the coveted rookie free agent to a three-year deal earlier in the day.
Collins, initially projected to be drafted as high as the top 10 in the 2015 NFL draft, did not hear his name called at all during the event, a result of an ongoing investigation into the murder of Collins’ ex-girlfriend and her unborn child. Collins was cleared as a suspect on Wednesday.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes Collins’ statement (via DallasCowboys.com’s David Helman) that the Cowboys, with his help, will be pretty formidable this season and for years to come.
“This is going to be the best offensive line in NFL history. Mark my words,” Collins said.
The thing is, he may not be wrong.
Last year, the Cowboys had the best run-blocking offensive line according to Football Outsiders, but ranked 16th in pass-protection, having allowed 30 sacks. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked the Cowboys’ run blocking as second in the league, behind the Philadelphia Eagles, and third in pass-protection.
No matter whose metrics you believe, it’s obvious that Dallas’ offensive line had a stellar 2014. Left tackle Tyron Smith, left guard Ronald Leary, center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and right tackle Doug Free combined forces to help power one of the NFL’s better offenses on the season. They also played a major role in running back DeMarco Murray ending the year rushing for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns on his 392 carries.
Now, it’s just a matter of finding a place for Collins to fit in. Collins played both guard and tackle in college. And while he could be inserted into the Cowboys’ line as a tackle in his rookie year, his skills at run-blocking currently surpass his pass-protection abilities. Leary’s spot at left guard seems to be the position Collins could best occupy in 2015.
Even if this iteration of Dallas’ offensive line doesn’t ultimately go down as the NFL’s all-time greatest, it’s certain that the team’s already good line has gotten appreciably better with the addition of Collins.
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