This happened awfully fast. Let's try to recap, if we can.
Oh, how quickly things change. Less than 24 hours ago, Archer authored a post in which he talked about unfinished business. He focused on two still-thin positions; here's one of them:
Interior offensive line
This has nothing to do with Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Ronald Leary and only a little to do with Mackenzy Bernadeau. The Cowboys have a top backup in Bernadeau, but his contract is up after this year. He is more of a guard playing center. The Cowboys don’t have a lot of interior linemen in the pipeline, so to speak. They have nine tackles, including their two draft picks, Chaz Green and Laurence Gibson, but only have four true interior linemen.
Now, they suddenly have an embarrassment of riches...
This from last night: La'el Collins will be visiting the Cowboys first, LaCanfora reports.
Chad Sabadie, a sports anchor in New Orleans, tweeted that sources reported to him the Cowboys met with Collins at Jerry Jone's private residence on Wednesday night - and that that Tony Romo and the entire offensive line got involved.
Then the news broke: we learned that the Cowboys had reached a deal with Collins. The team fully guaranteed the three-year, $1.65 million deal, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
This led to the big event: the special introductory presser ttypically given only for first-round picks (nice touch, Cowboys):
The Cowboys introduce La'el Collins to the media. Its must-see video. MUST. SEE.
After sitting in on the introductory press conference, Eatman was flabbergasted:
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a press conference that was as powerful as what I witnessed here at Valley Ranch. And if I have, it certainly didn’t come from a 21-year-old who has already faced as much as adversity as most people will ever endure. At any point, insert your own ‘wow’ moment to what has actually transpired here. In all of my years of watching these press conferences, I can’t remember someone who completely owned the moment like Collins did.
Sherrington shares Eatman's perspective on Collins's impressive debut:
For what it’s worth: I’ve covered lots of these types of affairs where the owner/GM trots out the latest addition. Especially in the case of one deemed so controversial, the less said by the guest of honor, the better. All told Thursday, I’m guessing Collins spoke, unscripted, for 20 minutes. To say he was impressive would be an understatement. Forthright, earnest, passionate, eloquent and above all else, believable, his message left Jerry weepy, his mother weepy and Jason Garrett gushing over a player who could teach him a thing or two about grabbing an audience by its ears.
If Thursday's media session is any indication, this kid is an RKG all the way.
Collins' new contract may have been finalized Thursday, but his mind was made up on Wednesday night, during the aforementioned dinner at Jerry Jones' crib:
"The moment I was in Mr. Jones’ home I just felt something that was indescribable," Collins said. "Just the way he sat down in front of my mom, my agent and the guys that were there. And the way that he just embraced us, I knew from that moment this is where I needed to be, this is where I wanted to be. I want to be a part of something special. What’s greater than being a Dallas Cowboy? What’s greater? I don’t know. I don’t know anything better."
Neither do we, son. Neither do we.
In the midst of a press conference filled with saying the right things, Collins showed himself to be the anti-Deion:
"I’ve thought about it, but it’s not even about the money," Collins said at his introductory press conference. "I never played the game for the money -- I play the because I love the game, I play the game because I’m passionate about it. "Just to be here, I’m still getting paid. And at the end of the day, it was way more than I was getting college. It’s a plus. It’s a great situation. What’s for me is going to be for me. The money, all that, that’s cool. If I handle my business and this team handles the business that we know we’re going to handle, that’ll come."
The headline more or less says it all, don't you think?
Archer wonders where Collins will fit, taking the recent selections of Chaz Green and Laurence Gibson into account:
"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."
Helman picks up the same question, wondering where exactly Collins will play amid the Cowboys' collection of O-line talent? Tackle? Guard? Which side? Thankfully, Redball steps in with an answer:
"We’re going to play our five best offensive linemen. And we’re going to figure out who those guys are." Garrett said. "He’s going to have an opportunity to play both."
The Dallas Cowboys had only one first-round pick in last week's NFL draft, Archer writes, but they ended up with three first-round talents. Here are Archer's final thoughts:
Time will tell if these first-round talents will have first-round production, but the Cowboys felt the rewards were certainly worth the risks.
If they do pay off, the Cowboys have not only extended Tony Romo’s window of opportunity but set themselves up to be successful after Romo is done.
And now, snippets from a handful of scouting reports on the Cowboys newest
acquisition top-20 talent:
What I liked: He is a very competitive, physical bull-dozer with a mean streak. He wants to stay after you through the whistle and gets the label as "a finisher" which is a guy who is not interested in blocking you for 3 seconds when he can mess with you for 6. He has very strong zone blocking skills in the running game (as you might assume any member of that LSU attack would have). He is comfortable in pass protection and gets centered with the edge rushers very well with a kick-step that beats his man to the angle which is exactly what you want. He can square up and get the first punch in with large hands and generally control the situation in pass protection...He also seems to get better as a game goes along. Good disposition and good competitiveness.
STRENGTHS: Collins sports a thick, powerful frame that makes him about as difficult to move as a chest freezer. His frame belies his quick feet, an attribute that when combined with his long arms, impressive strength and aggression make him a devastating run blocker. Collins is often the quickest of LSU's offensive linemen off the snap and he routinely drives his assignment off the line of scrimmage with pure power, creating easy running lanes for LSU's backs. He's surprisingly quick to the second level and has good body control to adjust to moving targets. As a pass blocker, Collins shows good initial quickness in his kick-slide and uses his long reach to maintain the arc. When he gets his hands on opponents and remains square, it is generally lights out for the defender.
Run blocking: Has massive frame, good overall strength and plays with a chip. Very efficient run blocker. Fires off the ball with very good initial burst and first-step angle. Has good lower-body strength and strong hands to drive defenders off the line, but only if his hands are in proper position. Does a consistently good job on combo blocks; jars defender with initial contact, and then effectively peals off to secondary block with good awareness and efficient angles. Above average job of reaching second-level blocks and hitting moving targets. Strong enough to drive smaller defenders to the ground but needs to do a better job with hand placement. Frequently allows hands to get outside of defenders frame, which prevents him from latching on and steering. Will also lunge for contact at times and can fall off some blocks, as a result.
Sources Tell Us: "I love the guy on tape. Big-time finisher in the run game and we need that. What I don't like is that his hands are bad as a pass blocker right now and I'm not sure he gets that fixed right away." -- AFC offensive line coach
NFL Comparison: Maurkice Pouncey
Bottom Line: Brawling right tackle or guard prospect in the NFL who has had a level of success in hyper-competitive SEC West. Lacks athleticism to be a consistent left tackle, despite his snaps there in college. Collins plays with a mean streak that is evident in every game, and could come in and start right away in a power-running game as a guard.
Broaddus and Brugler share some scouting notes on the Cowboys new first-rounder. Here's The Broad One:
Plays as the left tackle. Powerful man. Works to finish his block. When he gets in trouble he will become overextended and lunge. Able to adjust to the line games. Doesn’t appear to have the range to get all the way to the outside. Is far better control going inside as opposed to working to his outside. Hands tend to go outside the frame....Able to seal the corner to allow back to the outside. Has to be careful when defender pulls him forward with his balance. Is one of those players that has upper body power and he tries to climb the block as he pushes. Will have snaps where he is off balance. Will carry his hands low in pass pro. Manages to put himself in position on his kick. Can push his man wide...Tends to catch blocks more than punch. Can adjust to sudden movement. Might have to play inside or at right tackle.
This would have been the top story on an ordinary day:
Greg Hardy's appeal of his ten-game suspension will be heard by Harold Henderson, the same arbitrator who upheld the penalty against Adrian Peterson, which prompted a prolonged court battle between the NFL and the players' association. Archer speculates on the likely series of events:
If Hardy's appeal is denied, the case is almost assured to head to court. In the Peterson case, the NFLPA stated the NFL used the new personal conduct policy to review an incident that occurred prior to its implementation.
...In addition to seeing the Peterson case get overturned, the league saw its penalty on Ray Rice get overturned by a judge, who concluded the NFL essentially punished Rice twice for the same crime.
One of the reasons the Cowboys didn't draft a running back is that they have tremendous faith in free agent signee Darren McFadden. Heeeere's Jerry:
"McFadden made a big difference here," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "His availability – make no bones about it – we didn’t know that McFadden was going to be available when we initially started to think about this year and in our decisions regarding that. … It might have been a little different story had we not had McFadden on our roster in this draft."
Jones the Younger says that this year's group of UDFA wideouts reminds him of the 2006 class that included Miles Austin and Sam Hurd. That would be great, as they definitely wanted to upgrade the position:
"We put a big priority on receivers when we went into this," the Cowboys executive vice president said during a conference call with season-ticket holders. "We were in the business to draft one if the right guy showed up. As it turned out, the same thing as the running back, every time we had our eye on one they’d tend to come off our board and then the next guy down we had a better player. So we really focused on receiver in free agency [after the draft] and actually ended up getting some of the players that were still on our board at the end of the draft."