The first round of our Summer Scouting offensive tackle bracket is just about complete, with Andrus Peat, Brandon Scherff and Cedric Ogbuehi qualifying for the semi-finals. All three semi-finalists have a bona-fide claim for the top spot in our preseason tackle rankings, but there could be a dark horse from this match-up between the the LSU and Oklahoma big uglies.
Both La’El Collins (LSU) and Daryl Williams (Oklahoma) could have declared for the 2014 NFL Draft, but they made a wise decision to return to school as neither prospect would have challenged the top three tackles from this past draft class. Specifically, Greg Robinson (Rams), Jake Matthews (Falcons) and Taylor Lewan (Titans) are all superior talents and would have gone ahead of the Tiger and Sooner. Another year of tape will serve each prospect well as they challenge for first-round consideration next Spring.
Collins enjoyed a successful 2013 season, finishing the campaign as a Second Team All-SEC performer. He was an Honorable Mention All-SEC player in 2012 and was recognized as a Freshman All-American by CBS at the end of the 2011 season. He has started each of the last 25 games, with his last 12 starts coming at left tackle (2013.) In 2012, Collins started every game (13 total) at guard. In total, Collins has appeared in 32 games during his tenure at LSU, which came after a decorated high school career including First Team Parade All-American in 2011. He was considered a 5-star recruit by ever major scouting outlet in the country.
Williams, not to be outdone, was named Second Team All-Big 12 at the end of the 2013 season in which he started 12 games at right tackle and one at left tackle. In 2012, Williams was an Honorable Mention All-Conference performer who started 10 games (missed three games with a knee injury.) He’s started 23 total games, gaining experience on both the left and right sides of the offensive line. In high school, Williams was considered a 4-star recruit.
While Collins has appeared on virtually every preseason offensive tackle list, Williams is a name that appears to be a bit overlooked. I decided to throw him into this bracket to see if he has a chance to be one of the 2015 NFL Draft risers.
Tale of the Tape:
Size (estimated and based on listed measureables from college player pages):
La’El Collins: 6’5″, 315lbs
Daryl Williams: 6’6″, 329lbs
Notes: Both Collins and Williams are big men who can carry their weight well. Williams has the edge in terms of overall mass, but that’s not necessarily a (+) for the tackle position. At 329lbs, he’s about 10lbs beyond the maximum weight you’d like to see from your starter. That said, his weight doesn’t seem to hinder his movement skills all that much, so I don’t think he’s “too big” at this stage. He’ll have to be careful not to get any bigger during his pro career. One really (+) physical trait that Williams has is his thick base. His legs are massive and he has a good bubble; he also presents with ideal length.
Collins is right in the NFL’s wheelhouse when describing the ideal tackle measureables. At 6’5″ and 315lbs, he’s plenty big enough to holdup in the NFL while still presenting with a body composition that allows for solid movement skills and overall agility. He doesn’t appear sloppy, and while 315(+) pounders could always use some tightening in their mid-sections, I don’t see any glaring issues with his frame. My biggest concern with Collins is his thin-ish lower half. His legs aren’t nearly as well-developed as Williams’, and he lacks much of a rear end. Linemen that lack those qualities tend to have issues versus NFL power.
Both Collins and Williams are attractive prospects who present with the physical make-up needed to project success in the NFL. However, I like Williams a little more because of his overall frame and lower half. He looks the part of an NFL player right now, and as long as he keeps his weight in check, he’s the winner.
Advantage: Daryl Williams
Notes: La’El Collins is a strong, strong man. In fact, of all the tackles that I’ve watched so far during this exercise, only Brandon Scherff comes close to creating the kind of stunning jolt that Collins does. And while Collins doesn’t always play with great leverage, his natural power is clear on tape. On more than one occasion, Collins is at a leverage disadvantage but still manages to control and drive the defender in any direction he chooses. Obviously, the NFL will present a much more difficult challenge for any prospect who relies only on strength. That said, Collins has a LOT of it .
Daryl Williams is no slouch in the strength department, as you’d expect from a man that’s nearly 330lbs. When he gets a good jump off the snap and is able to fire out his hands, the defender is consistently neutralized. While Williams isn’t the kind of “wow” power player that Collins is, he certainly displayed enough of a pop on tape to feel comfortable with this part of his game. On more than one occasion, I noted Williams reaching his assignment on the second level and pancaking him to the ground. It wasn’t a consistent occurrence, but it certainly has me excited to see his development in 2014.
La’El Collins is simply the more impressive power player and the clear winner when it comes to who is the stronger man on tape.
Advantage: La’el Collins
Movement Skills/Athletic Ability
Notes: Neither Collins or Williams are going to get high praise from me regarding their athleticism or lateral movement skills. While I think they are both in possession of at least adequate skills necessary to start in the NFL, they’re simply not elite guys when changing direction or finishing in space. As such, both players project more as right tackles in the NFL and are likely to be more successful as in-line, smash mouth guys. Williams has more of a chance to play in a ZBS and has enjoyed more success in space because he’s a naturally longer prospect than Collins is, but he labors when on the run and tends to be a waist bender when initiating contact in the open-field.
Collins is a tad more flexible than Williams, but he still has some struggles changing directions and with his overall agility. He’s simply a power player at this point in his development, and his 2014 tape will go a long way in showcasing how hard he’s worked on his footwork and COD skills.
While neither player jumped off the tape as overly athletic, I’m giving the nod to Collins. Williams’ waist bending is a clue as to his lacking flexibility, and the bigger concern for me was his initial movement out of his stance in pass protection. He tends to stand straight up, almost in a jerking fashion, and struggles to build momentum in his slide. Collins appears a bit more natural at this point, even though he still needs some work.
Advantage: La’El Collins
Notes: Daryl Williams’ thick trunk and long arms serve him well when protecting the quarterback, as he’s able to keep rushers at bay with his length while also having enough sand in the pants to anchor against oncoming power moves. He’ll need to work on his knee bend, as he labors when getting out of his stance and into his initial kick slide. He tends to jerk his upper body upward as a result of his bending at the waist, slowing his ability to cut off the pass rusher and protect the edge. However, he possesses a strong punch and pretty solid hand use, and displays an appealing set of physical traits that still haven’t reached their maximum potential.
La’El Collins, as stated above, packs a lot of power and can really knock an oncoming pass rusher off his course. However, he’s a work in progress with his lateral agility, and while he has pretty light feet for a big man, he still can get beat when defenders cross his face. There were more than a few times that I noted him chasing a pass rusher to the edge rather than quickly getting out in front and cutting off the angle to the quarterback.
Both players enter the 2014 season with a bit to prove in pass protection. At this point, they appear to be power players on the right side rather than natural pass protecting left tackles. Simply from a pass protection standpoint, both players made the right call returning to school.
Notes: Collins power and ability to drive the defender off the ball is consistently on display in the running game, and while he needs to play with better and more consistent pad level at times, he is still so overwhelming at the point of attack that he can flat out maul. He’s the ideal in-line power player, as he needs to work on his angles and ability to finish in space. Overall, though, he’s a natural brute who will win anytime he’s in a phone booth.
Williams is a willing run blocker and he does a nice job with his massive frame to make it really difficult for a defender to shed and/or disengage. He can move better than anticipated when getting to the second level, but appears lost at times and is an inconsistent finisher.
La’El Collins is the winner here based on how overwhelming and dominant he can be at the point of attack. If he can show improvement with his footwork and pad level, his value as a run blocker could rival past prospects like D.J. Fluker (Chargers.)
Advantage: La’El Collins
La’El Collins takes the victory in a battle that was pretty close. Both players are intriguing talents who, with a consistent season of tape this year, have a chance to be top-32 selections. Collins natural power and potentially dominant presence in the run game is going to drive his draft value, and if he can show increased flexibility, range and pad level, he’s a name that will rise rapidly up the Board. Williams has a chance to be an under-the-radar talent that emerges during the draft process as a potential first-rounder, but (and much like Collins) he needs to show better bend and a more natural drop into pass protection in order to really enhance his stock.