Eagles Wake-Up Call: The La’el Collins Question
Today’s question comes from Brian, via Twitter:
@SheilKapadia Why not La’el Collins in 7th to at least hold rights? Talent, meets a need, reportedly high character before, so… #culture?
— Brian Cole (@DelCo_Brian) May 5, 2015
I’ve received some version of this question over and over again in the past couple days, although most don’t care that the Eagles passed on La’el Collins during the draft. They want to know if the Birds will be interested in signing Collins now as a free agent.
This is a complicated situation on a number of levels, so let’s start with where things stand with Collins. He met with investigators earlier this week, and according to NOLA.com is still not considered a suspect in the homicide of his ex-girlfriend Brittany Mills and her then unborn son. However, as Pro Football Talk points out, that’s not the same as being cleared completely. The investigation is ongoing.
Of course, NFL coaches and GMs are not known to be the most patient of people, so they’ve already started courting Collins. Rex Ryan reportedly already met with him, and Dolphins players are recruiting Collins as well.
He is an undrafted free agent, meaning Collins can sign wherever he wants. There are no restrictions.
So, will the Eagles have interest?
From a football perspective, it makes all the sense in the world. The Eagles showed interest in Collins during the pre-draft process. He was reportedly one of their 30 official visits and also worked out for the Eagles privately. A week before the draft, I thought Collins was a legitimate option for the Eagles with the No. 20 pick.
Meanwhile, the team came out of the draft with no offensive linemen. They have an immediate opening at right guard and will have an eventual opening at right tackle. The Eagles desperately need to add young talent up front.
Again, from a football perspective, it’s easy to connect the dots.
But Chip Kelly revealed during the draft that Collins was not on the Eagles’ board.
Asked if removing him was a hard decision, he said, “It wasn’t a hard decision, no. No, it was just – really, I don’t think we should be talking about draft picks. I think two people have lost their lives, and I think that’s a little bit more important than that. We weren’t really thinking about the draft at that point in time with him.”
We joke about #culture here all the time, but obviously the Eagles would need to make sure everything checked out with Collins before potentially pursuing him. Kelly is obsessed with gathering as much information as possible on the players he brings into the building. That would especially apply here, even though the financial risk with Collins is relatively minimal. It’s worth noting that Collins didn’t previously have any reported red flags from a character perspective.
The feeling here is that if Kelly liked Collins during his official visit, and if Collins is completely cleared, it’s possible the Eagles take a look. But given the emphasis on #culture and how Kelly responded to the question during the draft, my guess is it’s a long shot that he lands in Philadelphia.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“What genius would assemble a QB group as uninspiring as the Philadelphia Eagles?” What they’re saying this week.
From the WR prototype to the lack of offensive linemen, here are 10 thoughts on the Eagles’ draft.
Kelly’s focus on defense extended from earlier this offseason right into the draft, writes McManus.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Among the undrafted free agents, Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz likes Texas WR John Harris:
Has real NFL potential. Very good blocker and talented receiver. Hands catcher who plucks the ball away from his body. Plays to his size. Catches the ball in traffic. Able to take big hits and play through contact. Has pretty good body control. Needs to work on his route running. Played in the slot and outside. Moved around a lot. Redshirted in 2010, then caught a total of 9 passes in 3 years. Exploded as a Senior, going 68-1051-7. Raw, but talented.
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News thinks the Eagles are better now than they were at the end of last season:
On paper, they are a better team right now than they were at the end of last season when they failed to make the playoffs despite winning 10 games.
Their biggest liability last year was their pass defense. Gave up a league-worst 72 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Allowed 30 TD passes, the fourth most in the NFL.
Their secondary should be much better this season with the additions of cornerbacks Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and rookie Eric Rowe. The 6-1, 205-pound Rowe gives them somebody who is capable of matching up in coverage against some of the bigger tight ends and wide receivers that they’ll face.
Do we need to start a countdown to Week 1? Or at least to training camp?