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Did the Colts miss out by not drafting La'El Collins?

Offensive lineman La'El Collins went undrafted, but according to his agent in an interview with the MMQB, he wouldn't have re-entered the draft in 2016 - posing the question of whether the Colts missed out by not selecting him with a late-round pick.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The situation of former LSU offensive lineman La'El Collins was a crazy one entering the draft.  Projected to be a first round pick (and potentially top-15), an ex-girlfriend of Collins' was found murdered days before the draft and police wanted to speak to Collins about it, though he was never a suspect.  That sent his draft stock into a downfall, and by the time he was officially cleared it was too late: he was an undrafted free agent.

Making matters more complicated from a football perspective was the fact that his agent, Mike McCartney, told teams that if Collins wasn't drafted in the first three rounds, he would re-enter the 2016 draft.  This was only possible if he was drafted, however, as if he went undrafted he wouldn't be able to enter the draft next year.  In a terrific profile by the MMQB's Robert Klemko on Collins' situation and how he ended up signing with the Dallas Cowboys, McCartney said that six teams called and said that they planned to take Collins on Saturday (sometime during rounds four through seven), and McCartney replied that if they did so, Collins would re-enter the draft next year.

For a team like the Colts who could use offensive line help, a number of fans thought that it would be worth using a late-round draft pick on Collins anyway, and I tended to agree with that assessment.  Even if Collins were to opt to enter the draft next year (or, worse, police found that he was connected to the murder), they'd only be out a late-round draft pick.  The Colts didn't do this and neither did any other team, however, and Collins ended up as an undrafted free agent.

In talking with Klemko, however, McCartney revealed that it was likely a bluff:

"We can put it on the record now: We were never going back in the draft.  If someone had drafted him, we would've had a long, long discussion about it, but at the end of the day you can't go back in the draft.  He could get injured, gain weight, or 10 great tackles could come out.  Too many risks."

There you have it: Collins' agent is on record now as having said that the lineman wouldn't have entered the draft next year, even though they would have seriously considered it.  It's the same thing that a number of others pointed out, that it wouldn't make sense for a prospect like Collins to sit out a year simply because of draft status with all of the other variables that could go into it.

That brings up the question of whether the Colts missed their opportunity, and the answer is clearly that yes, they did.  But at the same time, it's hard to blame Ryan Grigson for not taking a flier on Collins in a later round when none of the other general managers in the NFL did either.  It's true that teams value seventh round picks more than most fans, and so we must realize that using a late-round pick on a player who might never play for them isn't taken as lightly by GMs as it is by fans.  And considering that Collins' agent explicitly told teams that the lineman would re-enter the draft in 2016 if drafted this year, it's completely understandable why Ryan Grigson didn't select Collins in the draft.

If Grigson had taken a chance on Collins and called his agent's bluff, it now sounds very likely that he'd be playing for the Colts in 2015 and could be considered the steal of the draft, but it's hard to fault him for not doing so.