All things considered, the NFL Draft couldn’t have gone much worse for La’el Collins. The LSU offensive lineman, a projected first-round pick, was not even drafted due to off-the-field concerns.
The sad thing is, he might not have done anything wrong.
Collins is being interviewed by Louisiana police following the shooting death of a pregnant woman in Baton Rouge, who is believed to be Collins’ ex-girlfriend. Collins is not believed to be a suspect, but his ties to the victim were enough to scare NFL teams away. In fact, Collins attempted to pull out of the draft altogether, but the NFL wouldn’t allow it. He is now a free agent – which can be a good thing, Tiki Barber said – but still, for a first-round talent, Collins is in bad shape.
“(Being a free agent will) help down the road if he’s a good football player, but right now, you’re not getting anything,” CBS Sports NFL insider Pete Prisco said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s going to get, what, $80,000 or $50,000 or something as a signing bonus? It’s going to take him a couple years. We saw what happened with Vontaze Burfict. Burfict had the issues off the field when he came out of Arizona State and went undrafted. I think his signing bonus was $1,000 when he signed with the Bengals and he just redid his contract two years ago or last year. So if you’re good, you get to it quicker and you get to your money and that helps. Nobody wants to be in this situation. Look, if he was involved in it, it’s a horrible, horrible situation and he should pay for his crime. If he’s not involved in it, it’s still a horrible situation and you know what? From his standpoint, it’s really penalized him a great deal.”
Brandon Tierney wonders if Collins should go to a team that has strong leadership on the coaching staff and in the front office. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are reportedly interested in Collins, but Tierney doesn’t think either is necessarily a good fit.
Prisco, however, feels Collins’ future hinges on what happens in Louisiana.
“Look, if he’s exonerated of all charges and he wasn’t involved in it, I don’t think it matters where he goes,” Prisco said. “I’ve actually met the kid and talked to the kid in the past. I was astounded when I saw the possibility that he was involved in it. Now, you don’t get to know anybody in an hour, but he didn’t come across to me as the kind of kid who was going to go to a team and cause problems.
“So it just depends on what happens in the next couple days,” Prisco continued. “If he’s not involved in it, he’s just another football player going to a team without any problems on his resume. If he is involved in it, I get it, it’s much bigger than that – and it should be.”
Switching gears a bit, Tierney wondered if there’s an NFL team that’s been down for a few years that could contend for a playoff spot in 2015. If there is, Prisco feels the Minnesota Vikings are it.
“I go back to the young quarterback,” Prisco said. “If Teddy Bridgewater continues to develop, you look at all the young talent that they’ve acquired in the last couple years, particularly on defense. I mean, that defense is loaded. You have a young player, Anthony Barr, who really didn’t get a chance to show what he could do last year. He was dinged up, but he’s going to be a heck of a player. You have Sharrif Floyd. You have two young corners. They drafted Trae Waynes in the first round, and you pair him with Xavier Rhodes and you have Harrison Smith in the back end. Everson Griffen (at defensive end). That’s a really good, young defense with a good football coach in Mike Zimmer. So I think that’s one team (that could contend for the Wild Card).”