Arthur Blank supported drafting Jalen Collins despite failed drug tests

Arthur Blank is confident Jalen Collins will be a good fit for the team and its culture. Dale Zanine/USA TODAY

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he supported the team's decision to draft cornerback Jalen Collins despite Collins' multiple failed drug tests at LSU.

At least two NFL teams flagged Collins in pre-draft reports as a result of his marijuana use. Following the draft, the Falcons' second-round pick confessed to failing at least three drug tests while in college.

"I think it's a line that the personnel department, the medical staff, and coaching staff has to look at carefully," Blank told ESPN.com this offseason, referring to Collins and the failed tests. "You look at what occurrences have taken place in the young man's life: Is there a consistent pattern over a long period of time? Has he dealt with it? Does he acknowledge it? In this case, has he dealt with any ability to go through rehab? Do you feel, after going all through that, that this is behind him?

"If you scratch the surface of any human being, you're going to find mistakes. So you accept that and you move on with him."

There has been much talk over the years about the "Falcons filter" and the organization's tendency to steer clear of players with such off-the-field concerns.

"The filter is a filter: It's not designed to be a complete, solid shield," Blank said. "You filter out players that you don't think are going to add and fit into the chemistry and the culture of our organization. We think Jalen will. The coaches are satisfied. Personnel is satisfied. And our medical staff is satisfied as well."

Collins appreciated Blank's backing.

"It's a great feeling to know that the owner of the team is supporting me and has confidence in me," Collins said. "It just gives me that extra boost, that extra motivation to stay on the right course and do the right thing."

Collins was considered a first-round talent but fell to the 42nd overall selection. Former New York Giants and Detroit Lions cornerback Corey Raymond, who coached Collins at LSU, said he warned the cornerback long ago about his off-the-field habits.

"I always told him that off-the-field stuff was going to cost him one day,'' Raymond said. "He started listening to me eventually. His mom was very involved. She was the one who helped him out the most in those situation. He grew up and matured going into camp of his junior year. He started to get it.

"A habit like that, you can control it or it can control you. Something like that will cost you a lot of money. Some cats, they don't see the difference in making $2 million instead of $10-$15 million. They don't see that part of it because of immaturity.''

Blank was asked if he prohibited the team from drafting another player with a questionable background: Randy Gregory. The pass-rusher from Nebraska appeared to be on the Falcons' board until he admitted testing positive for marijuana at the February NFL combine. Gregory was considered a top-10 prospect but fell to Dallas in the second round as the 60th overall selection.

"I don't ever want to put myself in position where I have to veto anyone,'' Blank said. "And if I've hired the right coach and coaching staff and have the right folks in personnel, they'll take care of vetoing. They'll understand our culture without me having to impose my authority or will on it. That should always be unnecessary. It never has been necessary for me to do that in all my years here.''

As for Collins, he is expected to compete with Robert Alford for a starting role. Collins was limited during the offseason coming off foot surgery. He will report to training camp with the rest of the team Thursday. The Falcons' first training camp practice is scheduled for Friday from 10 a.m. to noon ET.