When La’el Collins entered this world, he did so with an umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. And yet, his mother, Loyetta, says, “He didn’t even turn blue.” That’s when she knew he was “born with a purpose.”
It was for that reason that she named him La’el, Hebrew for “belonging to God.”
Geoff Hobson featured Collins and his mother in a Father’s Day piece on account of the fact that she had to act as both parents for five children. He writes:
She is Old Testament all the way, a Louisiana lady who once drove a one-ton hauler to feed her family and wears bold hats to church and to the stores with matching masks... They’re not sure exactly how many jobs she worked. She did a few of them at the same time. Everything from driving Dominoes to being a prison guard and in between from working security at a casino to hauling whatever she could in the shift-stick truck.
So if you’ve ever watched Collins and wondered where he gets the strength to do things like this:
If you need me, I’ll be dreaming about La’el Collins clearing paths for Joe Mixon pic.twitter.com/yNMLK8reX4— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrison) June 22, 2022
... it might be because he has a mom who says things like this:
“You have to fight or they’ll bury you … If they see your weakness, they’ll wear you down. I tell them, if you’re weak, you’re beat. You have to go put on your big boy drawers and put on your big girl drawers and you have to press forward. Don’t look back. God will bring you through.”
You can watch our discussion of Collins and his mom in the video below:
You can also listen to the podcast on iTunes or using the player below:
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Experience: eighth season
He’s in the first year of a three-year, $21 million deal he signed with the Bengals in March. This year, he will earn $1.2 million in base salary and receive a $1.7 million roster bonus.
Collins went undrafted in 2015 on account of a police investigation for which he was not even considered a suspect. Because the matter would only be resolved after the Draft, his stock plummeted, and his agents told teams that he would sit out and enter the Draft in 2016 were they to pick him after the third round.
By his third game with the Dallas Cowboys, he established himself as a starter at left guard. In 2019, now a right tackle, Collins signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension. But he missed the entirety of the 2020 season with a hip injury and five games last year due to a league suspension for missing a drug test.
And that is how such an immensely talented man ends up getting cut and signing a (relatively) cheap contract in Cincinnati.
When he did play last year, Collins was quite effective, only allowing two sacks and earning an overall grade of 82.0 from Pro Football Focus. The brilliant Mike Santagata of Sports Illustrated still considers Collins to be one of the five best right tackles in the NFL. In a tremendous piece breaking down Collins’ strengths and weaknesses, he wrote:
Collins is an immaculate fit for the Bengals. He’s athletic and can play at the second level, works very well on his combination blocks, and can displace defenders horizontally or vertically. This makes him fit like a glove for wide zone. When it comes to pass protection, the only thing that he really lacks for Frank Pollack is length. His arms are just over 33 inches long, which is decent, but not exactly what they are looking for in that area. Other than that he should work out well.
Santagata also noted that Collins will be able to team with new right guard Alex Cappa “to provide some powerful double teams and combination blocks.” Further, he wrote, Collins can be trusted in 1-on-1 situations in pass protection, which will be a refreshing change.
In short, if he can stay healthy, Collins will make the Bengals’ line far more physical and consistent.