Sports

Extra Points: 'Dateline NFL,' whispers derail Collins

(SportsNetwork.com) - Talented LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins was either done in by circumstance or iniquity on Thursday night at the NFL Draft.

And the fact that we don't know which is the problem.

We have all watched enough "Dateline NBC" to understand when the pregnant woman who may have been your ex-girlfriend is murdered, you are going to have to answer a few questions.

Collins has not been labeled a suspect by Louisiana authorities in the investigation surrounding the shooting death of 29-year-old Brittany Mills, but it's hard to fault NFL teams for pumping the brakes on a kid who could have gone in the first half of the opening round and certainly wouldn't have lasted no longer than No. 21 overall where Cincinnati selected Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, a lesser-regarded prospect who is coming off ACL surgery.

Investigators doing their jobs cost Collins millions as team after team erased the big man from their draft boards, a necessity due to the uncertainty of the situation.

You want to give people the benefit of the doubt but when Keith Morrison is preparing to knock on the door, it's probably a good idea not to cut the seven-figure check to the guy who is going to have the cameras in his face.

For now police claim they only want to talk to Collins to see if he can provide them with information and organizations are taking the wait-and-see approach, the only logical path.

Mills was shot to death on April 24 and there are whispers that Collins could be the father of her baby, which was delivered successfully. He was scheduled to attend the draft on Thursday but left Chicago early in an effort to cooperate and clear his name.

Collins' agent, aware of his impending free-fall, attempted to remove his client from the draft pool with an eye on the league's supplemental draft. Wary of the slippery slope that could create, however, the NFL denied the request.

Meanwhile, because Collins has already been an "eligible" entry into the 2015 draft, he can't withdraw.

Of course none of this will matter if Collins is tied to a murder but if he's just one of the unluckiest people in the world who happened to be close to a woman who was murdered days before his lottery ticket was set to be cashed, he's really got only two options: move forward after taking a massive financial hit or sit out the '15 season and re-enter the 2016 draft.

CHARACTER CONCERNS

Two other players with significant character concerns, Washington cornerback Marcus Peters and Missouri edge defender Shane Ray, overcame their personal hurdles and were selected in the first round.

Many considered Peters the best corner prospect in the draft but he was kicked off the UW football team in the middle of last season. Kansas City, desperate for secondary help, ignored any concerns and tabbed Peters at No. 18 overall, the third CB taken behind Trae Waynes (Minnesota, No. 11) and Kevin Johnson (Houston, No. 16).

Ray, meanwhile, probably cost himself millions by being cited for marijuana possession four days before the draft. Atlanta was very interested in the pass rusher at No. 8 overall but balked in favor of Clemson's Vic Beasley.

Ray, though, still managed to find his way in the first round when the Broncos traded up to take him 23rd overall, giving up veteran offensive lineman Manny Ramirez and a couple late-round picks to Detroit.

No one took chances on two other red-flagged prospects with first-round talent, Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory and Missouri receiver Dorial Green- Beckham.

FIRST-ROUND DRAFT DISH

-Tampa Bay selected James Winston with the No. 1 overall pick, the first Florida State quarterback to ever make it to the top of the draft board. The Bucs are hoping Winston has more success than the only other two FSU QBs to go in the first round, Christian Ponder (to Minnesota in 2011) and E.J. Manuel (to Buffalo in 2013).

-Three Washington players were selected in Round 1 or the first time -- Nose tackle Danny Shelton (No. 12; Cleveland), Peters (No. 18; Kansas City) and linebacker/safety Shaq Thompson (No. 25; Carolina).

-Southern California defensive lineman Leonard Williams (No. 6; New York Jets) and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (No. 20; Philadelphia) were both selected in the first round. The Trojans have now had 68 players selected in the first round, the most in the common draft era which began 1967. Miami-Florida is next with 58.

THE BIG BOARD:

Here are the top players left on the board as Round 2 approaches:

1. La'el Collins, OT, LSU

2. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

3. Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

4. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

5. Landon Collins, S, Alabama

6. Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon

7. Eli Harold, LB, Virginia

8. Eric Rowe, DB, Utah

9. Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota

10. Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

11. Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

12. Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State

13. Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State

14. Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

15. Mario Edwards, Jr, DT, Florida State

16. Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State

17. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana

18. Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami-Florida

19. Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

20. T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh