In the days leading to the start of the college football season, NFL Draft Scout will count down the top-25 college programs, according to draft-eligible NFL talent on the roster.
LSU Tigers : No. 2
LSU Draft History
- NFL Draft picks since moving to seven round format in 1994: 108 (8th in college football)
- NFL Draft picks the last 10 years: 62(t-1st in college football)
- NFL Draft picks the last five years: 32(3rd in college football)
Looking back at the 2016 NFL Draft
2016 NFL Draft picks: 5
- (2/52) LB Deion Jones
- (4/123) OT Jerald Hawkins
- (4/133) CB Rashard Robinson
- (7/233) FS Jalen Mills
- (7/234) OG Vadal Alexander
Undrafted free agents: PT Jamie Keehn , TE Dillon Gordon , OLB Lamar Louis , DT Quentin Thomas
Looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft
With at least four draft picks every year since 2006, LSU has built a sustained reputation as one of the top football factories in college football. Despite the high volume of draft picks, LSU has been shut out of the first round the past two years, the first time that has happened in back-to-back years to the Detroit Tigers since 2002-03. But that short streak should end next spring with several high profile prospects in the 2017 draft class, none more notable than running back Leonard Fournette . Although they aren’t eligible until the 2018 NFL Draft, sophomore pass rusher Arden Key and cornerback Kevin Toliver are two prospects to keep on the radar for the future.
Below are the top draft-eligible prospects on the Tigers’ roster for the next level.
|Class: Junior||Height: 6-1||Weight: 230||40-yard dash: 4.45|
A running back has been drafted top-10 overall each of the last two years and Fournette should extend that streak to three straight years next April. A former five-star recruit, the New Orleans native rushed for 1,000 yards as a true freshman, but last season as a sophomore is when he truly conveyed his dominance.
Fournette led the country in rushing yards per game (162.8 – next best was Derrick Henry at 147.9) with 10 100-yard rushing performances, including four 200-yard games. He finished the 2015 season with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns and aside from a poor performance in Tuscaloosa ( Alabama Crimson Tide held him to only 31 yards on 19 carries), Fournette averaged almost seven yards per carry.
A finely-tuned athlete, Fournette looks more like a linebacker with his thick, developed physique and functional strength. In fact, in terms of body type, athleticism and power, the closest comparison for the LSU back might be Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis . As a running back, it isn’t as easy to find an apples-to-apples NFL comparison for Fournette because of his unique skill-set.
He has tremendous balance to not only stay on his feet through contact, but also push through bodies and pick up yards after contact. Fournette has explosive traits and is able to cut-and-accelerate in a fluid motion to find slivers of daylight on the line of scrimmage and pull away from second level defenders.
His vision allows him to navigate through congestion, but sometimes he can be too aggressive attacking north-south instead of using his creativity to bounce outside or stay patient. Fournette also needs to improve his dependability in the passing game as both a receiver and blocker — he has shown flashes of being able to do both, but still requires seasoning.
|Class: Junior||Height: 6-0||Weight: 211||40-yard dash: 4.54|
As the son of a former first round pick, Adams grew up around the game of football. His father, George Adams, was a standout at Kentucky Wildcats before he was drafted 19th overall in the 1985 NFL Draft by the New York Giants , winning the Super Bowl the next year with New York.
Jamal started off as a running back just like his father, but his aggressive mentality was an even better fit at safety where he developed into a five-star recruit. Adams started a pair of games in 2014 and earned Freshman All-American honors as the Tigers’ nickel defensive back. He became a full-time player as a sophomore last season and posted 67 tackles, 10 passes defended, four interceptions and a forced fumble.
In today’s NFL, playing the safety position is much more than “free” or “strong” — NFL teams want their safeties to do it all. And Adams has the skill-set to do a little bit of everything due to his ball instincts, range and mentality vs. the run. He uses his eyes well to quickly diagnose and sense what will happen half seconds before it does.
Adams needs to do a better job disguising his intentions in coverage, but he has the movement skills and ball reaction to stack and cover. Although he can be overaggressive and arrive too hot, the North Texas Mean Green native competes with a contact-driven mentality, squaring up the ball carrier and running his feet to finish. Adams is a very well-rounded safety prospect with a chance to be drafted high if he takes the next step in his development in 2016.
|Class: Junior||Height: 6-2||Weight: 190||40-yard dash: 4.56|
The Tigers ranked 11th in the SEC in passing offense last season, but that wasn’t the fault of the wide receivers, most notably Dupre. Considered one of the top recruits in the country, the New Orleans native stayed in the state of Louisiana and enrolled at LSU. After serving as mostly a deep threat as a true freshman, Dupre emerged as the Tigers most dangerous receiving threat last season as a sophomore. He led the team with 43 receptions for 698 yards and six touchdowns, including a season-best 115 yards and two scores against Florida Gators ‘s talented secondary.
A tall drink of water, Dupre has an athletic frame and presents a large target for his quarterback. He displays beautiful adjustment skills with the go-go-gadget arms to extend his catch radius and reel in throws away from his body. Dupre tracks well vertically and is a natural hands-catcher, allowing him to climb the ladder, highpoint and pluck downfield.
He is able to establish initial leverage and uses his body motion to set up defenders and square off routes, but has some mechanical struggles with sophisticated routes. Dupre is lean, but does well in crowded coverage to win body position and attack the ball before it reaches his body. His strength also shows as a blocker on the outside.
|Class: Senior||Height: 5-11||Weight: 192||40-yard dash: 4.50|
Talking to NFL scouts last fall, several had done full reports on White as they made their way through Baton Rouge because the prevailing opinion at LSU and in the scouting community was the junior was a shoo-in for the 2016 class. However, White, who is “mature beyond his years” according to one LSU assistant coach, gathered all the information and decided it was in his best interest to return to school. A starter since his true freshman season, he has four career interceptions, but none last season during an up-and-down junior campaign, finishing with 44 tackles and seven passes defended in 2015.
A good-sized athlete, White has the athleticism and length to match up well with receivers of all sizes. He understands body position to straddle wideouts and disrupt the catch point, using timing and ball skills to knock the ball away.
White is able to unlock his hips and stay balanced to press and mirror off the line of scrimmage. While he is experienced in press, he has impatient feet at the line of scrimmage and prefers to bail rather than jam, making it too easy for the receiver to enter the route. White is often caught on his heels in off-coverage and that causes him to be late driving on throws in front of him. He also has a tendency to grab and will be inconsistent with the timing of his hand checks and jabs, especially vs. bigger, physical targets (see match-ups vs. Laquon Treadwell and De’Runnya Wilson in 2015).
White likely would have been a top-50 selection last April, but coming off a season with zero interceptions and the feeling of unfinished business, he enters this season with lofty goals, including a potential spot in the first round. It was an underwhelming junior season, but White still earned Second Team All-SEC honors from the conference coaches and it has set the stage for a senior year with high expectations in 2016.
|Class: Junior||Height: 6-4||Weight: 293||40-yard dash: 5.07|
With LSU transitioning to a 3-4 scheme under Aranda in 2016, Godchaux might be the most important player on the Tigers’ defense. He will be asked to move interchangeably between nose tackle and defensive end, especially with Christian LaCouture out for the season with an injury. Godchaux will be tasked with learning several techniques on the defensive line in order to free things for rushers like Arden Key. Entering his third year as a starter, Godchaux started 22 games over his first two seasons in Baton Rouge, posting a combined 83 tackles, 6.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Godchaux has the skill-set to be equally effective rushing the passer and stopping the run. He uses his initial quickness to attack gaps, controlling his natural momentum to barrel into the pocket. While his burst is above average, Godchaux needs to improve his timing due to inconsistent snap anticipation — sometimes he is the first to move off the snap, the last on others.
He also needs to better reset his anchor to withstand and leverage double-teams, something he’ll see much more of this upcoming season in LSU’s new scheme. While still raw in some areas, Godchaux displays the combination of contact balance, power and hustle that translates well to the NFL.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-2||Weight: 252||40-yard dash: 4.82|
With nine returning starters, the LSU defense won’t look much different than a season ago. But with new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda implementing a 3-4 scheme, there will be plenty of fresh wrinkles that should help the Tigers field one of the best defensive units in the country.
However, one aspect that won’t change from last year is the intensity that Beckwith brings to the field as he directs traffic from inside linebacker, regardless if the Tigers are running a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He is the team’s top returning tackler with 84 stops last season, adding career-bests 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
An every-down linebacker for the Tigers, Beckwith is extremely patient with a natural feel to sift through the trash, find the ball and make the stop. He is a fundamentally sound tackler with strong hands to hook, stay low and drop the ball carrier, using leverage to wrap and finish. Beckwith has the power and physical mentality to take on linemen at the second level, acting as a hammer between the tackles vs. the run game.
While his patience works to his advantage, it can also be a curse as he tends to wait for the ball carrier, causing him to be late mirroring and losing the angle. Beckwith has adequate closing speed once he locates his target, but he isn’t a rangy athlete and his play speed is average at best, limiting his effectiveness near the sideline. His tight hips and tall pads also show in the open field when attempting to break down in the backfield or dropping in coverage, which leads to spacing issues.
With the size that dwarfs some defensive ends, Beckwith is built for the NFL game with the strength to be a downhill masher between the tackles. However, his athletic profile is average-at-best for today’s pro game, lacking the speed to be reliable outside the hashes or in space. While he will likely always be a 4.8-type of athlete, Beckwith can help his NFL draft stock with improved anticipation and read/react skills as a senior leader in Aranda’s defense.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-6||Weight: 309||40-yard dash: 5.18|
One of the reasons Fournette was able to have such success running up the middle the last two seasons was Pocic lined up at center. Considered one of the best offensive line recruits in the country, he started one game as a true freshman in 2013 before becoming LSU’s full-time center as a sophomore. Pocic earned Second Team All-SEC honors as a junior last season, totaling 132.5 knockdowns over 12 starts.
A fantastic run blocker, Pocic is excellent on blocking combinations, using a mix of hand placement and body control to climb, disengage and find his next target. He is quick to snap-and-step, using quickness and smooth movements to break down and secure run lanes.
On the hoof, Pocic looks more like an offensive tackle with his body type and his tall stature can get him in trouble when his pads rise off the snap, losing leverage to interior rushers. He isn’t an overpowering blocker, but has the natural balance and body rhythm to lock up defenders and do his job. Pocic is in the conversation to be the first safety drafted in the 2017 class.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-2||Weight: 203||40-yard dash: 4.49|
LSU had two wideouts drafted in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft ( Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry ) and the Tigers could repeat that in the 2017 class with Dupre and Dural. Entering his third year as a starter, Dural led the team in receiving as a sophomore in 2014 with 37 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns.
He was on pace to surpass those numbers as a junior last year before a gruesome injury, tearing the hamstring off his right hip against Ole Miss Rebels . He finished last season with 28 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns over nine starts and was forced to put his NFL plans on hold due to his rehab from the injury.
Lining up mostly as the starting “Z” receiver, Dural has excellent route acceleration to test cornerbacks vertically and gain a step behind the secondary. He tracks the ball well downfield with beautiful body control to contort his frame mid-air and make a play at the catch point. Dural checks boxes for height and length, but has only average muscle definition and physical defenders will push him around.
While he displays the athleticism to make plays on the ball, Dural doesn’t consistently attack the ball cleanly and needs to improve his focus through the catch. There is plenty to like about the LSU receiver, but NFL scouts are hoping to see a more detailed receiver in 2016 – and if so, Dural can be a top-five senior prospect at his position.
Other draft-eligible prospects to watch:
Colin Jeter , TE, Sr. (6-6, 245, 4.85, #81)
Josh Boutte , RG, SR. (6-4, 342, 5.47, #76)
Lewis Neal , DE, SR. (6-1, 264, 4.82, #92)
Tashawn Bower , DE/OLB, Sr. (6-4, 242, 4.84, #46)
Duke Riley , LB, Sr. (6-0, 227, 4.72, #40)
Ed Paris , CB, Jr. (6-0, 210, 4.52, #21)
Dwayne Thomas , CB/S, rSr. (6-0, 186, 4.49, #13)
Rickey Jefferson , FS, SR. (5-11, 206, 4.58, #29)
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Top 25 NFL Draft Rankings: Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams lead No. 2 LSU