EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As each round passed and LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins remained on the board, many fans of the St. Louis Rams began clamoring for the team to take a chance on him in hopes that he could become a bargain pick in the later rounds.
But according to Rams coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, that was never an option.
"That's correct and I think most people did it," Fisher said. "Extraordinary circumstances. They're very, very difficult and we just have to wait now for the legal process to work itself out."
Not just most people, but all people in the NFL chose the same approach. Once projected as a first-round pick and a potential target for the Rams in that round, Collins went unchosen over the draft's three days.
Collins indeed finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, the type of which have rarely been seen before in the draft, especially in the hours just before its start. According to reports from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Collins attempted to pull out of this year's draft after it was revealed that police in Louisiana wanted to speak to him about the shooting death of a pregnant woman in Baton Rouge.
The woman was believed to be a former girlfriend of Collins' and was pregnant at the time of her death. The child was born but later died, police said Friday. Earlier in the week, the police said Collins is not believed to be a suspect in the woman's death but they still wanted to speak to him.
With so many unanswered questions, Collins had hoped he could pull out of the draft and enter this summer's supplemental draft. The NFL turned down that application and Collins attempted to regain control of his situation by saying that he wouldn't sign with any team that drafted him later than the second day (Rounds 2 and 3) and would re-enter the draft in 2016.
All 32 teams passed on Collins in the first three rounds and followed by doing the same in Rounds 4 through 7. Under NFL rules, because he went undrafted this year, he cannot re-enter the 2016 draft, leaving Collins as a free agent.
Collins' case is rare because it happened so close to the draft, and because it's an ongoing investigation, there was no way for teams to have access to all the facts. That fear of the unknown led to every team passing on Collins. However, if the facts come out and Collins is cleared of any wrongdoing to the satisfaction of teams, there's little doubt he will become one of the most sought-after undrafted free agents the league has ever seen.
For the Rams, the idea of adding Collins as an undrafted free agent has to be appealing considering his talent and what the cost would be. The same can probably be said of 31 other teams. Even though the Rams added four offensive linemen in the draft, Collins was rated higher than all of them.
Now that the draft is over, Collins and his representatives plan to wait to see how things play out before signing with a team. At this point, there's no reason for a team to take an approach any different from the one Collins plans to take.
"I think across the board I think everybody had interest in him because he was a good college football player, but I think now we just have to let things unfold and see what happens," Fisher said. "It's very, very unfortunate, whether he was involved or not in the incident. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that happened that's very, very unfortunate."
When Collins' situation gains more clarity, so too will his future.