March 21, 2015 - Aaron Wilson
Kevin Mawae: LSU tackle La'el Collins is 'a great football player'
Louisiana State offensive tackle La'el Collins reinforced his reputation for having a nasty streak during the Senior Bowl in January, punishing defensive players with his powerful blocking style. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound projected first-round draft pick leveled Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera, sending him flying through the air and crashing to the ground. “I think La’el is a great football player,” former NFL All-Pro center and LSU All-American Kevin Mawae said in a telephone interview. “I’ve been around the program and I know him personally. He’s a big guy and he moves well for his size. He’s big and thick through the upper body and moves really well for a really big guy. Everybody thinks he’ll be a high first-rounder with the kind of athlete he is. I’ve been asked by guys in the pros what I thought about him. “He has great intuition and athletic ability. I think he would be a solid inside guy who could play both guard spots and he’s athletic enough to play tackle. He’s got length in the arms that would tend to allow him to play that position. He’s definitely a finisher. He’s a mauler. You watch the film and he’s more of a road grader than a finesse player. He’s got solid technique. Staying an extra year solidified his draft position. He will put his helmet on you and strike you." Collins' aggressiveness should serve him well in the NFL, provided that he can harness that on a consistent basis. Collins has been working with former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Todd Weiner, who has also coached New York Jets offensive guard James Carpenter, a former first-round draft pick from Alabama. “I’m extremely impressed with La’el,” Weiner said. “I’ve worked with several first-round draft picks and played a long time and I think he has everything it takes to be an outstanding rookie and eventually a Pro Bowl guy. He has the explosiveness. He has the strength, the speed and the mental side. I’m very impressed with his knowledge of the game. That’s the most important thing is he loves competition and that will take him very far. Not all players have the love for the game with the strength and the technique and the competitiveness he has. "That makes him a very coachable person. Offensive linemen need to be the bullies. To be the bully you have to get the last hit, the last shove and make sure the guy knows who play from the start of the snap to the end of the snap. We teach guys to be relentless and that’s what La’el is.” Like Mawae during his 16-year NFL career, Collins is represented by Priority Sports. Specifically, Collins is represented by Deryk Gilmore, who also represents San Diego Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. “I signed with Mark Bartelstein back in 1994 on the recommendation of former teammates of mine, and LSU has always been a favorable place for them between myself and Alan Faneca and now La’el,” Mawae said. “Those guys, Mark, Rick Smith, Deryk Gilmore, Mike McCartney, Kenny Zuckerman aall pride themselves on working with great football players and great people. “You can look at their history of clientele in the NBA and NFL and very rarely do you see them have off the field problems or trouble with the league. They want to represent you off the field in contract negotiations, not in the courtroom, so they shy away from guys with character issues and character problems. They’ve had a lot of players who’ve wound up being leaders in locker rooms and that’s indicative of what’s important to them as an agency.” The strength of Collins' game is his power and aggressiveness. "I really feel like every aspect of my game has made me who I am," Collins said. "I really feel like pass blocking, run blocking is strong. It's all equal. "I take the same initiative in everything I do. If it's a pass play, I want to protect. If it's a run play, I want to drive my guy off the ball. I take that mentality every down." Collins has been training wearing Titin Tech, weighted compression athletic gear. “When I took it off and did drills at the combine, it was easy!” Collins said. “I felt like training in Titin was great because when I worked with Todd I had that eight pounds on my back doing drills, so when I took it off I could move all that much better.” Collins expressed confidence that he can have immediate success in the NFL after watching former LSU teammates, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, excel as rookies last season. “I don't think it's too much magic to it, just talking to guys, just be you," Collins said. “If you're a guy who's here, you worked to excel at what you do. Just show them in the drills what you have to offer.” Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun