CHICAGO -- First-round prospect La'el Collins left the NFL Draft on Wednesday to return to Baton Rouge to meet with authorities regarding what he might know about the shooting death of Brittany Mills on Friday. He may also have left his chances of getting drafted.
Collins is not considered a suspect in the incident at this time, but, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said on Wednesday afternoon, it's hard to imagine an NFL team selecting Collins until he is officially cleared in the investigation.
"If this kid gets officially cleared as a suspect prior to tomorrow night, he probably goes in the first round," Mayock said at an NFL Network pre-draft event. "If this kid is not officially cleared, how can you draft him? If he's not officially cleared by [Thursday] night, then you go and you hope he's cleared by the next night."
At some point, Mayock said, a team might take a chance on him without an official declaration of his non-involvement. But that might not be until deep in the draft.
Collins appeared briefly at an NFL event on Wednesday morning in Chicago before departing without addressing the media.
On Tuesday, according to reports, NFL general managers were informed about Collins' situation. Mills was pregnant at the time of her death and the baby survived, they were told, although police have not determined the paternity of the newborn. General managers were told that Collins had not contacted Mills since September.
"I don't think there is a general manager in the league that will sit there and say, 'Hey, no problem,' and then a month later have him be more than a person of interest in a murder report," Mayock said. "It's horrible timing for the kid . . . But the bottom line is if it's not wrapped up before [Thursday] night, he won't go in the first round. It's a critical time frame for this kid."