Up next is LSU's La'el Collins. And The Valley Shook was nice enough to respond to another 6-pack of questions. Check out the responses below:
1. He played left guard as a freshman and sophomore, and then junior and senior years played left tackle. Most scouts grade him out as a RT, is that what you see at the next level?
Probably. I think he could play anywhere except maybe LT. He's physical and bull strong enough to play on the interior, but he posted some solid athletic numbers. The major issue with him at LT is his length, which isn't ideal. But physically, he does compare to a guy like Jason Peters pretty well. His arms are actually longer and his short area quickness scores are better. That said, Peters is a rare talent. For Collins to play at LT, he'd win more with his quickness and athleticism, rather than his length.
2. Most reports say he doesn't have the athleticism or balance to play LT. Is that something he needs to work on?
He's not a dynamite athlete, but he's not a bad one. I don't get those criticisms. Stephen White did a nice piece talking about how consistently balanced he is in his drops. He took on guys like Dante Fowler Jr. and Bud Dupree and limited their production. These are guys many consider to be high potential NFL pass rush types. This is one report I don't buy, personally.
3. Scouts call him a "mean player," someone with tenacity. Is that his biggest strength outside of physical tools?
That and his work ethic. He likes to mix it up. Always has, dating back to HS. Which belies his off the field mentality of being a genuinely nice, soft spoken kid. He's an f'n Eagle Scout! He opted to stay his senior season at LSU, I think both because he wanted to get his degree and because he wanted to prove to people he's a 1st round talent. All offseason he tweeted pics of all the crazy work he was doing to prepare himself. I give him credit for that.
4. What do you see as his greatest weakness heading into the league?
He's just not the biggest dude. He's 6'4", 305. It didn't appear to impact his college game, but the guys just get bigger and stronger at the next level. He never got pushed around, so I don't know if that's an issue, but something to watch, at least. I think the biggest "problem" might be that he's just really well rounded but not singularly great at anything. If he was a standout in pass pro, you could toss him at LT and deal with the run blocking coming along. If he was a mauler, plug him at RG or RT and let him eat. I think it will depend on the system as to what position he plays.
5. Depending on the service, he's graded around the 4th OT prospect in the class. How does he stack up against some of the others ahead of him?
My opinion is that it's a weird, no clear top player year at the position. Mayock has Collins as the no. 1 OT. Others love more powerful dude like Ereck Flowers or an athletic dude like T.J. Clemmings. Some people think Brandon Scherff is clearly the best OT prospect, and others think he's a OG only. There's no Greg Robinson/Jake Matthews top tier guy this year. I'm biased, but I'm partial to Collins over any of these guys. I think he's versatile, and I think he has a pro's mentality that will keep him in the league for a long time.
6. Ultimately, where do you see him getting drafted? And what sort of immediate impact do you expect?
I think he will go in the back half of the 1st round. I hope so, for his sake. Immediate impact, I think he's a day one starter at OG. He could be a lifer there, like a guy like Alan Faneca, who similarly played LT at LSU before becoming one of the NFL's best guard. Or he could be apart of a long term plan if he's drafted by a team with an aging LT looking for an eventual replacement.
I'll be continuing this series with some further prospects the Browns have either been linked to, or show up frequently in mock drafts. If there's anyone you all think would be interesting to have the collegiate blog's perspective, feel free to shoot me a note, or let us know in the comments!