Update, 11:45 a.m.: Ex-LSU star La'el Collins meets with police, answers all questions, ready to get football career back on track, attorney says. Click here to read more.
Update, 10:30 a.m.: La'el Collins is meeting with police Monday morning at the Louisiana State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge.
La’el Collins’ improbable tumble in the NFL draft is complete. In 256 picks, he wasn’t selected.
Collins was left out during the three-day, seven-round event in Chicago that ended Saturday, a stunning free fall that began when news broke Tuesday that police wished to speak with him regarding the shooting death last weekend of a pregnant woman.
“We have never seen a story like this in NFL draft history,” ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said during the network’s coverage of the event.
Collins, LSU’s former star left tackle and Redemptorist standout, began the week as a sure-fire first-round pick — a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder who many projected as a potential top-10 selection before his name surfaced in the homicide investigation.
Baton Rouge police have said Collins is not a suspect in the death of Brittney Mills, but the mere association with the incident sent his draft stock tumbling. It caused his agent on Friday to make a rare move.
The agent told multiple national outlets that the former All-Southeastern Conference player would sit out the 2015 season and re-enter the draft in 2016 if he was not drafted in Friday’s second and third rounds. He said his client would not sign with a team if picked in Saturday’s fourth through seventh rounds and that he would not sign an undrafted free agent contract.
He’s now ineligible to enter the 2016 draft because he was not selected in the 2015 event. He is eligible to sign a free-agent deal.
Collins returned to Baton Rouge on Wednesday from the draft site in Chicago with plans to meet with police. A source confirmed Collins will meet with homicide detectives Monday and will take a paternity test to determine whether he was the father of Mills’ child Brenton. Brenton Mills, delivered alive immediately after his mother’s death, died Friday as a 1-week-old.
The ordeal has hovered over Collins this week, spooking NFL teams from taking him. He lost a hefty signing bonus. Even as a late first-round draft pick, Collins would have received upward of $2 million in guaranteed money.
Collins was projected by some to be selected in the top 10. A source said Saturday that an NFL team had reached out to a former LSU assistant coach for his thoughts on Collins. The team thought seriously about taking him in the second round Friday. They passed on him.
One NFL general manager, the Houston Texans’ Rick Smith, told local reporter Howard Chen on Saturday that Collins’ situation is “unfortunate” and “tragic” and that there is too much uncertainty to risk a draft pick on him.
A source told The Advocate that, as of Saturday night, Collins had not signed with a team as a free agent.
Collins’ agency, Priority Sports/Maven Sports Group, knew this was coming. They asked the NFL to withdraw Collins from the selection process just hours before the draft began Thursday, FoxSports.com reported. The NFL rejected the request.
“We’ve seen seven rounds come and seven rounds (go), and La’el Collins, once considered a first-round draft pick, still has not been drafted,” Schefter said. “It now will put him into a very difficult and challenging situation, particularly with teams having rookie salary caps that they have to squeeze players under. … Everybody is waiting to see exactly what happens here.”
Collins is one of many people who will be interviewed as part of the investigation into Mills’ death, police have said.
Mills was shot multiple times in “the upper body” last Friday night after answering the door at her Ship Drive apartment, police said, likely by someone she knew. It appeared she refused a request by the shooter to use her vehicle and then was shot, police have said.
Collins’ attorney, Jim Boren, said Wednesday he would not be commenting further on the matter.
The attorney said a private investigative company was hired to prove Collins was out of town and therefore couldn’t have shot Mills. The nature of the relationship between Mills and Collins hasn’t been made clear, except that the two knew each other.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.