Teams that want clarity regarding tackle La’el Collins before the draft starts most likely won’t be getting it.
According to Ross Dellenger and Ben Wallace of the New Orleans Advocate, neither Collins nor his lawyer had contacted detectives in Baton Rouge as of Wednesday evening to schedule an interview regarding the death of 29-year-old Brittney Mills. Police have said that Collins is not a suspect.
As one league source said on Wednesday, if Collins had no connection to the crime of any kind, he should be doing everything he can to meet with police ASAP, so that police can be persuaded to give Collins full clearance before the draft begins. Absent a declaration from the authorities ruling Collins out, how can any team draft him — in any round?
So why is Collins delaying the process? One reasonable conclusion would be that Collins has opted to protect his liberty over his draft stock, which means that Collins has reason to believe that, based on what he tells police, he could still become a suspect.
Notwithstanding the recent quip from Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim regarding the notion that teams would excuse Hannibal Lecter’s behavior as an eating disorder if he could run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, the NFL has changed since the Ray Rice video emerged in September. Despite the value associated with a first-round talent who slides to round three or lower, embracing someone who hasn’t been cleared of responsibility for the murder of a pregnant woman could set the stage for a P.R. nightmare.
Apart from public relations concerns, what employer would want to hire a person who possibly will be implicated at some point in such a heinous crime? That’s why Collins needs to be cleared before any team can justify hiring him.