Cowboys’ Witten already impressed with undrafted Collins
LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins going undrafted due to Baton Rouge police questioning him regarding the death of former girlfriend Brittany Mills nearly crushed the 21-year-old’s dream of playing in the NFL. When Collins was dropped from the investigation, it created one of the biggest undrafted free agent frenzies in the past decade.
With no salary caps or other curtailments, owner Jerry Jones used his charm the the Cowboys’ renown to entice Collins, who grew up a Cowboys fan, to sign a three-year deal with the club. Dallas added first-round talent to an already blue-chip offensive line for a bargain basement price.
Tight end Jason Witten, who was among many star players at the Jones residence making a pitch to Collins, is impressed with the young offensive lineman.
"What a whirlwind it was for him the week prior," Witten said. "I was impressed with the way he handled himself that night. I was impressed with the way he handled himself the next day with you guys. I thought he was real mature and handled it like a pro."
Early projections from analysts have Collins beating out incumbent Ron Leary for the left guard spot. However, Witten doesn’t think it will be a slam dunk for the rookie.
"I think that has to play itself out," said Witten."Ron is a good player and played well last year. So, I think, just as I said, just to compete and see how it all plays out. I think that’s really one of the reasons we had success last year is we went into training camp and everybody was competing."
According to the 11-time Pro Bowler, the reason for the Cowboys’ success in 2014 was due to the competitive atmosphere created by head coach Jason Garrett. For Witten, adding Collins is a positive because it creates competition, which can only make the 2015 version that much better.
"Anytime you can make your football team better and create competition, that’s what you’re trying to. I think he’ll create that competition for all of us and make our team better.
"It was unique to be in that situation. Obviously excited to have an opportunity to recruit him or whatever. It’s good to see that he signed with us."
What exactly did the six-time All Pro tight end say to convince Collins to sign with the defending NFC East champions?
"There wasn’t a whole lot to be said from our end," Witten chuckled. "There wasn’t a whole lot of room to talk there. Mr. Jones was doing most of the talking."
The game tape tells the tale of Collins’ talent. Even if he fails to beat out Leary or start elsewhere on the offensive line in his rookie season, his versatility at guard and tackle spots gives the Cowboys unprecedented depth on the offensive line and a myriad of options in years to come.
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