La'el Collins' slide from first round to undrafted: A timeline of recent events
If it seems like just last week that experts had former LSU left tackle La’el Collins pegged as an almost surefire first-round pick. Well, that’s because it was just a week ago.
However, just two days before the NFL draft was set to begin in Chicago, news broke that Baton Rouge (La.) Police wanted to speak with Collins regarding the murder of 29-year-old pregnant woman Brittney Mills.
From there, Collins went from a lock to be drafted early to not being chosen by any NFL team in the seven rounds of last weekend’s NFL draft.
From making the decision to return for his senior season to his bizarre and tragic draft saga, Collins has gone from All-American to undrafted in what seems like a flash. Here’s a rundown of everything that’s transpired with the star tackle, from announcing his return for his final season at LSU to where he stands now.
Jan. 14, 2014: After a strong junior season had him projected as a high pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Collins surprised some by announcing that he would return to LSU for his senior season, setting the wheels in motion to push himself to first-round status in the 2015 NFL draft.
Nov. 28, 2014: In one of LSU’s best rushing performances of the season, the Tigers pounded Leonard Fournette to the left side of the line, running behind Collins as the freshman racked up a career-high in rushing yards while LSU was able to hold the ball for more than 41 minutes in a 23-17 win over Texas A&M.
Dec. 8-16, 2014: Collins was voted onto the Associated Press’ All-SEC first team, which would be followed by a slew of other honors, including the coaches’ first-team All-SEC nod, a second-team AP All-American selection, the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, LSU’s team MVP award and the honor of being a permanent captain for the Tigers.
Feb. 17-23, 2015: Collins took part in the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, putting up strong enough testing results to begin boosting his draft status. He followed that up by grading well in positional drills at LSU’s pro day a month later.
April 28, 2015: By the week leading up to draft night, Collins was projected to go anywhere from No. 9 to No. 23 in the major mock drafts.
April 28, 2015 (evening): The Baton Rouge Police Department publicly contacted Collins regarding the death of 29-year-old Brittney Mills, a pregnant woman found shot dead in her apartment in Baton Rouge. Police said that Collins was not a suspect, but because he knew the woman — and may have been romantically involved with her — they wanted to speak with him regarding any information he knew. According to reports, BRPD initially contacted Collins several days prior to the news breaking.
April 29, 2015: As questions swirled around Collins, reports that teams were getting nervous about him began to circulate. Collins, who was invited to Chicago to attend the draft, decided to head back to Baton Rouge in an attempt to meet with police prior to the draft to clear his name.
April 30, 2015 (afternoon): Reports began to take a very negative turn for Collins. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that multiple teams were taking Collins off of their draft board entirely until his name was cleared. However, BRPD said they would not meet with Collins until after the weekend, meaning he would not have a chance to sort out the matter before the draft. As Collins’ draft prospects began to sink, his agent took action. At around 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that Collins’ agent was looking to have his client declared ineligible for the 2015 draft, thereby enabling Collins to enter the NFL’s supplemental draft. About two hours after Glazer’s report, Schefter reported that the NFL denied Collins’ request.
April 30, 2015 (evening): The first round of the draft came and went without a team choosing Collins.
May 1, 2015: Heading into Day 2 of the draft, Collins’ representation once again made a play to help restore the left tackle’s status. Schefter reported that if Collins was not drafted in the second or third round, he would not sign with a team and then plan to enter the 2016 draft. Collins was not selected in either round.
May 1, 2015 (evening): Mills’ infant son, delivered after Mills was rushed to the hospital, passed away one week after his mother. The child’s death was later ruled a homicide.
May 2, 2015 (morning): As Collins’ attorney publicly insisted that Collins had an alibi for the day of the murder, things became more complicated in terms of his professional future. The NFL decided that Collins would not be allowed to re-enter the 2016 draft if he were to go undrafted; the only way he’d be able to do so would be if he was drafted, refused to sign and sat out the year.
May 2, 2015 (afternoon): Collins went undrafted in the final four rounds, despite reports from Schefter that it was likely a team would take a chance on him in the late rounds.
May 4, 2015, 11 a.m. ET: His tumble from first-round prospect to undrafted complete, Collins finally met with investigators on Monday morning. According to reports, the meeting lasted about an hour. Afterwards, Collins’ attorney said that his client answered all questions and said that Collins was cleared from the beginning. According to a report from The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), Collins planned to submit to a paternity test for the late child, although police would not comment on the matter. Even having spoken with Collins, BRPD did not clear Collins in the case but did not name him a suspect in the murders and said he fully cooperated.
May 4, 2015, approx. 8 p.m. ET: News broke that Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan arrived in Baton Rouge to meet with Collins. The two reportedly had dinner and spent about two hours together.
May 5, 2015: Following Collins’ meeting with Ryan, reports began to emerge that more NFL teams are planning to meet with the left tackle. The Advocate reported Tuesday morning that Collins would meet with the Miami Dolphins, a meeting set to include several former LSU teammates now with the team, and that he had received interest from “almost every” NFL team and will meet with several over the next few days.