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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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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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USA TODAY Sports/@TerrellePryor

Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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