La’el Collins was once considered a lock to be drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but the LSU player embroiled in a murder investigation in Louisiana instead went all seven rounds without hearing his name, and now has limited options to play in the NFL.
The star offensive lineman is scheduled to meet with police in Baton Rouge over the shooting death of 29-year-old Brittany Mills. Police said Collins is not a suspect, but that he had a previous relationship with Mills.
The investigation has scared many teams away, and La’el Collins saw his draft stock plummet. La’el’s agent tried to have him pulled from the draft so he could re-enter next year, after the investigation has completed and Collins believes his name will be cleared.
When the NFL rejected his bid, Collins and his agent had another plan — to refuse to sign with a team this year and re-enter the draft again next year.
But as NFL.com reported, this avenue is closed as well.
“Collins’ representatives had told clubs that Collins would refuse to sign with a team that drafted him outside the third round and that Collins would simply re-enter the draft in 2016. However, that is not an option according to NFL rules, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday. Teams were wary of drafting Collins until they know more information. The opinion across football has been relatively simple: Wait until the investigation process runs its course.”
La’el Collins went undrafted in part due to the timing of his investigation. Had the issue come up last year, Collins may have had a chance to clear his name, but the close proximity to the draft made it too big a gamble for most teams.
Many teams in the past that may have taken a chance on La’el Collins are also extra wary after what happened to the New England Patriots and Aaron Hernandez. Coming into the 2010 draft, there were many red flags surrounding Hernandez, but the Patriots chose to ignore them and draft him.
That move backfired in the worst way, with Hernandez convicted of one murder and set to go to trial for two others.
This time, teams seemed to be exercising quite a bit of caution.
“We thought about La’el the whole time, because he’s sitting up there,” said Marc Ross, the Giants‘ director of college scouting. “But we were going to pass on that.”
After going unpicked in the 2015 NFL Draft, La’el Collins will now become and undrafted free agent, though it remains unclear if any team is willing to take a chance on him.
[Image via Getty Images/Al Messerschmidt’