IRVING, Texas -- Now that La'el Collins is a member of the Dallas Cowboys, where does he fit?
He started his last two years at LSU at left tackle but played left guard before that.
A lot of teams felt he projected as a guard in the NFL but some thought he could play right tackle with his toughness and athleticism.
“He’s played both positions in college,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He has the skill set to play both positions in the NFL. We’re going to play our five best offensive linemen, and we’re going to figure out who those guys are. He’s going to have an opportunity to play both.”
Ronald Leary has started 31 of the past 32 regular-season games at left guard. Doug Free, who signed a three-year deal worth $15 million before free agency, has been the Cowboys' right tackle the past three seasons. Free had offseason foot surgery and is not expected to return to action until training camp.
If Collins plays guard, then Leary could be the backup at both spots and Mackenzy Bernadeau could focus on being the backup center behind Travis Frederick.
The Cowboys also drafted tackle Chaz Green in the third round and tackle Laurence Gibson in the seventh round.
“We’re going to have some great competition,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I’m so excited. It was one of the things I was happiest about was Green and then about Gibson … Gibson’s one of the best athletes I’ve seen in the offensive line. So we’ve got a chance to really have our depth there. And if we should have done well there, we’ve really got a chance to put together something very special relative to an offensive line.”
Collins was voted the top offensive lineman in the SEC after starting every game as a senior. He was voted a team captain and named the winner of LSU’s Charles McClendon Award as the team’s most outstanding player. He was named second-team All-America by the AP in 2014.
“Every report that we’ve gotten on La’el from everybody who we know at LSU says this is a tough young man,” Garrett said. “He’s mentally tough. He’s physically tough. We got these reports well before any of this came up, so we knew what he was all about. You watch him on tape, you know what he’s all about. He loves football. He plays it the right way. He plays with passion. He plays with emotion. He plays with enthusiasm. He plays tough.”