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Les Miles sees offensive tackle La'el Collins as first-round pick

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John Raoux/Associated Press
Unlike several LSU players last spring, offensive tackle La'el Collins opted to return to school for his senior season.

While the draft projections on Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi appear headed in the wrong direction, those of another top tackle in the SEC West -- LSU senior La'el Collins -- are only getting stronger. Tigers head coach Les Miles doesn't often make bold draft predictions on his players, despite regularly producing first-round draft picks, but did so in Collins' case.

"He's putting himself in position to have his degree," Miles said, according to lsureveille.com. "He is a leader of our team. He's a guy that has improved, is a dominant player on Saturdays and eventually, when the back end of this thing is all said and done, I think he'll have an opportunity to be a first-round draft pick."

Collins was the only highly-rated underclassman at LSU last year who elected to return to college for his senior season. He's parlayed that decision into a dominant series of game films for NFL scouts to evaluate. In fact, LSU assistant coach Frank Wilson went even further in praise of Collins last month, calling him a top-five pick.

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Had he turned pro as a junior, Collins was projected as a second-day draft choice (second or third round) for the 2014 draft. Collins, not surprisingly, said he has been pleased with the decision to stay in college.

"I definitely know in the future I'm going to have to take on everything that's coming my way, but I'm just trying to embrace my last couple weeks I have here and just enjoy it with my teammates," Collins said. "You can always make money and play and do those things, but you can't always make memories. I just want to make the best of what I have left here."

Collins will close the regular season with a chance to perform against two of the SEC's most talented defensive ends: Texas A&M star freshman Myles Garrett, and Arkansas senior Trey Flowers.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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