Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said multiple times this offseason La’el Collins was an option at right tackle for the Cowboys, and the third-year player may be ready to make a move outside. Collins said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter) he has worked mostly at right tackle for the Cowboys this offseason.
Jones said last month that Collins, who has been the primary starter at left guard when healthy during his career, could be used out there in an emergency. But thus far, Collins has worked “solely” at right tackle, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter). Cowboys coaches told Collins to get ready for work at right tackle, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter).
“I’ll be real clear here, our first preference … is to have him play guard,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News, last month. “But we also know that if there’s a guy on our team who might have that flexibility to move out to tackle, then he certainly has that skill set.”
Collins was a full-time starter at left tackle at LSU during the 2013 and ’14 seasons, moving out there after playing at left guard for the Tigers in 2012. With the Cowboys, Collins usurped the since-departed Ronald Leary at left guard as a rookie in 2015 and began last season there. However, a foot injury ended Collins’ season after just three games. Leary also performed better after reclaiming the job. Collins did not come off Dallas’ IR after rumors pointed to that being in play.
The Cowboys obviously will have a change at right tackle after longtime starter Doug Free opted to retire. They signed Byron Bell in the offseason and still have 2015 third-round pick Chaz Green on the roster. Inside, Dallas houses Joe Looney and Jonathan Cooper. The Cowboys re-signed the former top-10 pick to a one-year deal in March.
It’s possible the team is simply preparing the 23-year-old Collins for work at tackle should a situation arise, but there’s a lot to suggest a relocation may be coming for the 6-foot-5 lineman. A position switch would be notable on arguably the game’s premier offensive line, particularly after the Cowboys lost two starters this offseason. Due to his UDFA background, Collins is also entering a contract year, making positional versatility a potential boon to his value.