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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

The NFL Draft is just  five weeks away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

La’el Collins
Offensive Tackle
LSU

Height: 6-4
Weight: 305
40 time: 5.12 sec.

What they’re saying:
Strengths: Thick through chest and displays upper-body strength. Has strong hands and will snatch and control less active defenders. He takes defenders for a ride once he's engaged on the move. Loves to mash and intimidate opponents. Mean player.

Weaknesses: Fails to consistently bring hips and feet with him through contact in the running game, causing him to fall forward and lose balance. Hand usage is a major concern. Hands will start too low in pass pro at times and has to work hard to redirect. Change of direction is slow for a tackle. Relies on lunging rather than foot movement to counter inside moves.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: If the Redskins trade back in the first round and end up with their top pick somewhere in the teens, they could decide that it’s time to upgrade at right tackle. The position has been in turmoil ever since Jon Jansen’s ability started to go downhill about 10 years ago. Collins could fill the bill on the right side of the line for the next eight to 10 years.

There are two right tackles in Washington now but the fact that the position is still up in the air speaks volumes about how they are viewed. Tom Compton started the last half of the 2014 season and Morgan Moses was a third-round draft pick last year. But the organization was still hot on the trails of right tackles Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, and Bryan Bulaga in the early phases of free agency. The bidding for each of them got too high for the Redskins’ budget but the fact that they were looking is a strong indication that they won’t hesitate to take a tackle if he’s the best available player if they are on the clock with, say, the 12th pick.

Potential issues: He’s a bit on the light side; Scot McCloughan might prefer a tackle that weighs about 20 pounds more. It’s easy to say that Collins could add some weight but he’s already pretty thick in his upper body and those pounds could come at the cost of some quickness.

Collins also doesn’t seem to have the athletic ability to play left tackle. That isn’t relevant right now. But Trent Williams is going into the last year of his contract. While it’s clear that the Redskins would like to have him for the long term, things don’t always work out. If the team is going to spend a top-20 pick on a tackle they may want to get one who can move to the left side if needed. Collins is more likely to move to guard than he is to left tackle.

Bottom line: With talk that the Redskins are very open to trading back from the fifth pick buzzing around at the owners meeting earlier this week, the possibility that their first pick will be back in the teens, maybe even further back, has to be considered. That puts players at positions such as right tackle squarely in play.

Collins will be in the mix with a few other tackles who will be under consideration in the middle of the first round, players like Brandon Scherff of Iowa and Andrus Peat of Stanford. They all have their plusses and minuses and McCloughan’s pick, if he does go in this direction, may come down to factors like the background check and which one never missed a workout.

In his own words:

Collins on his personality and versatility:
“A guy who is extremely confident in his play and ability and ready to come into the NFL and be coached at a very high level. A guy who wants to be the best at the next level and is ready to compete. That’s why I’m looking forward to being here doing all the drills and a couple weeks ago at the Senior Bowl . . . When I started playing football, I started playing defense and made the transition to playing offense in high school. I’ve always had a mentality of a defensive lineman, and I was able to bring that over to the offense, but also bring intelligence over to play offensive line. For me to go out there with that mentality and just get after it is something I bring to the table.”
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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