One of the more peculiar stories surrounding the NFL Draft this spring was the case of LSU standout La'el Collins. The 6'4, 315-pound behemoth was expected to be one of the first tackles taken off the board this year, but teams shied away from him after the Baton Rouge Police Department announced it wanted to speak to him about his ex-girlfriend's murder. In a post-Aaron Hernandez world, clubs probably thought it was wise to let the legal process play out before committing to Collins, even though he was never a suspect in the case.
Collins met with police shortly after the draft, and reportedly cooperated with investigators. The Cowboys signed the undrafted rookie to a three-year, $1.7 million deal three days later, and it seems as if that decision is already paying off.
Collins was a standout in Dallas' first preseason game of the year Thursday night, as he played throughout most of the first half. He also unleashed a ferocious, highlight reel block on an unsuspecting Chargers linebacker:
Not sure who's watching but what a great block by @70LaelCollins #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/FvK2qhBuCn— Deryk Gilmore (@DerykGilmore) August 14, 2015
When he spoke to the media after the game, Collins stressed he still has a lot of work to do.
"There's a lot of things I need to clean up, things I can get better at, keep working on," said Collins. "I'm so far away from where I want to be at, I just need to continue to work."
One of the keys to building a competitive football team is identifying which potentially problematic players are worth taking risks on. If Collins continues to pancake defenders like he did Thursday night and stays out of trouble, the Cowboys may have landed the steal of the draft.
SB Nation presents: Collins was among the NFL's best undrafted free agents this year