One offensive tackle’s dream came true Thursday.
Another’s life has become a nightmare.
The New Orleans Saints drafted Stanford’s Andrus Peat with their first selection, the 13th overall pick of the first round.
You have to wonder were circumstances different, if the calendar was spun back a month, would the Saints have taken former LSU tackle La’el Collins there?
Saints coach Sean Payton threw cold water on that possibility, saying the club had Peat ranked ahead of Collins “since the beginning.”
“He was the highest-rated player we had on the board at that time,” Payton said.
Still, you have to wonder about what might have been.
As 32 dreams came true at the NFL draft show in Chicago and draft parties across the country, Collins sat, presumably somewhere in Baton Rouge.
Undrafted, but not unnoticed.
His link to a police investigation into the murder of Brittney Mills made the former LSU offensive tackle an untouchable as far as the first round was concerned.
How far will his slide continue? Could it be for all seven rounds?
Were it not for this tragic mess, Collins would have walked across the stage and wrapped Roger Goodell in a bear hug at some point Thursday night and held up a jersey belonging to the Saints or some other team.
Instead, the fresh stories Thursday about Collins were that his agent Jim Boren unsuccessfully petitioned the NFL to pull his name from this year’s draft and that Baton Rouge police won’t question him until after the draft.
As far as this draft was concerned, it was already too late. One is left to hope that his draft stock is as far as Collins’ troubles go.
Meanwhile, the Saints focused on filling their many needs with prospects sans baggage. It was a reason they found themselves taking Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony with the 31st overall pick, a player Payton called the leader of the Tigers defense.
With so many options and so many picks to work with in this year’s draft, New Orleans was almost bound to surprise.
Peat certainly qualified, before the Saints came back with a more predicable pick with Anthony.
Lots of names were mentioned as potential choices for the Saints at No. 13. One by one, they were pulled off the board. Jameis Winston to Tampa Bay (just kidding). Wide receiver Kevin White to Chicago. Linebacker Vic Beasley (Anthony’s teammate) to Atlanta. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton right before the Saints picked to Cleveland.
Peat fills a need, to be sure. Whether it’s the need you think the Saints needed to fill with their first choice is a matter of personal taste. Drew Brees couldn’t be disappointed. If you’ve watched him get knocked around the past couple of years, you know offensive line is one of the areas of emphasis for the Saints in this draft.
The question is where Peat will play. The Saints have a vacancy at left guard, having traded Ben Grubbs in March to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Peat said he’s played his entire college career at left tackle, and Payton said he’s going to play on the left or right side at that position.
At 6-foot-7, guard is out. Again, more good news for the 6-0 Brees, who might need platform cleats to see over him.
“I’m ready to come in and contribute wherever they need me,” Peat said.
A psychology major, Peat should enjoy profiling his new squad.
The Saints are coming off a 7-9 season, but general manager Mickey Loomis refused to call this a rebuilding campaign. This despite cutting loose a number of high-profile players to help them wind up with nine draft picks in seven rounds, including a second first-rounder at No. 31.
The Saints next targets Friday — New Orleans has the 44th pick overall in the second round — seemed likely to be linebacker or a pass-rushing specialist at defensive end, maybe even wide receiver. No chance it escaped Payton and Loomis’ notice that Nebraska outside linebacker Randy Gregory went undrafted Friday.
Then again, the Saints have three of the first 46 picks Friday and could be ready to do some dealing.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.