On Friday, former LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins basically had a dare for media members trying to assess what kind of NFL player he could be. Want to know how good a pass blocker I am? Go watch the tape of my matchup with Dante Fowler of Florida during the 2014 season.
"He's a top-five pick and I feel like I held my own," Collns said. "If you have any questions about my pass blocking, just go watch my tape against Florida."
So, I did. Now, yours truly is a lot of things. One thing I'm not is a film analyst. I can't look at film and give you all of the technical aspects of how and why a player does what he does, why he succeeds or fails. What I can do is look at a matchup and tell you which player, at least on this given day, was the better player.
I watched this tape twice. First, I watched the 'Collins' version from Draft Breakdown. Then, I watched the 'Fowler' version from Draft Breakdown. Watch it any way you want, the conclusion is inescapable. Collins did waaaaaaay more than hold his own against Fowler. He obliterated the Florida defensive end. Made him a complete non-factor.
Now, Collins and Fowler were not matched up on every play. Florida moved Fowler all over the front seven -- both ends as a hand-in-the-ground 4-3 defensive end, a stand-up rusher from either side in 3-4 alignments, and standing up in the middle as a blitzer.
In the tape above, though, Collins and Fowler were mano-a-mano in pass-rush situations maybe a half-dozen times. If you can find one where Fowler got the best of Collins then your eyes are better than mine. The only times I noticed Fowler in the backfield were when he matched up against a tight end or came through the middle. Alone with Collins, Fowler was stoned every time -- even being knocked completely to the ground in one sequence.
On running plays, pretty much the same. Collins neutralized or bested Fowler on nearly every play, even knocking his helmet off in one encounter.
There is a ton of information that goes into an evaluation, course. Most of it, the media and the fan base are not privy to. If everything you knew about these two players came from this single encounter, you would come away with two thoughts. At least, these are the two thoughts I had after watching them square off:
-- Collins can handle guys who are supposed to be big-time pass rushers.
-- What's the fuss about Fowler?