Rob Rang: ‘Best Fit For Collins’

With the Wells Report implicating the New England Patriots in Deflategate – or at least saying it’s “more probable than not” that they committed improprieties – many people are calling for stiff punishments for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the franchise in general, including the loss of a draft pick. Or multiple draft picks.

What kind of impact would that have on the Patriots – or any team?

“Well, it just robs from a team’s depth,” CBSSports.com NFL analyst Rob Rang said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When you see that the best teams are consistently having to replace players (lost) through free agency with those middle- and late-round selections – as the New England Patriots have been very successful in doing so in the past – then I think it could be a significant penalty for the New England Patriots should the NFL decide to take away a draft pick, or multiple draft picks, as some have theorized. So it could be something very interesting to see exactly what happens here in the NFL (with) this whole Deflategate scandal.”

In other draft news, the Dallas Cowboys have signed undrafted free agent La’el Collins to a three-year, $1.7 million contract. That is the max contract that Collins – a first-round grade with off-the-field issues – could have been offered.

Why is this the right fit for both sides?

“Well, I think for La’el Collins, it’s the best fit because it is a team that is willing to bring him into the fold after he went undrafted,” Rang said. “I personally had him rated as a top-20 prospect. I thought he could go as high as No. 9 or No. 10 overall in this past draft to the New York Giants or St. Louis Rams. He certainly would fit in with those two clubs, as well as the Dallas Cowboys because he is a big, physical, run-blocking player that had started at the left tackle position at LSU (but) projects better at guard or right tackle in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive lines in all of the league, so it remains to be seen exactly where La’el Collins will fit in – or if he will be able to play as a starter. But the talent is very much obvious, and I think he goes into a club – obviously with Jerry Jones – that is willing to roll the dice on off-field issues. So La’el Collins essentially lands on his feet after a very scary situation in Baton Rouge.”

The Cowboys adding Collins is a case of the rich getting richer. Interestingly enough, Washington and New York both used first-round picks on offensive tackles, with Washington taking Iowa’s Brandon Scherff fifth overall and the Giants taking Miami’s Ereck Flowers ninth.

Given how dominant the Cowboys’ line was last season, might this be a case of NFC East copy-cat?

“Yeah, no question,” Rang said. “I think that’s where the NFC East is going. I think that is a reflection of just the way that you consistently win in today’s NFL. This was a case of Washington and New York trying to follow the lead (of) what the Dallas Cowboys did a year ago. But these are also two franchises that have shown their own willingness in the past to invest in the line of scrimmage.”

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