While the 2020 draft has opened and closed, it’s never too early to project what next year’s draft class will look like. While the Tigers lost 20 major contributors to its national championship run, there’s plenty of talent left on the roster.
On Monday, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller released his 2021 Mock Draft and four LSU players made appearances in the first round. Here’s who Miller sees going in the first round and what the players must do in 2020 to ensure their first round draft status.
Ja’Marr Chase (No. 2 overall)
Chase’s 2019 season for the purple and gold was one for the history books as he set program and SEC records in yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20) in a single season. Chase is back for his junior season and while it’s hard to imagine him having the impact he did last year with so many new fresh faces, including first year starter Myles Brennan, he’s still the best returning receiver in college football.
Chase is one of the most explosive and naturally strong sophomore receivers you're ever going to evaluate. The biggest question will be how he develops without Joe Burrow at quarterback and Joe Brady as an offensive assistant, but the raw talent he displayed this past season makes him an early watch-list top-three player.
He’ll sport the No. 7 for the Tigers in 2020 and gives Brennan that elite, lethal weapon that he can rely on. When the team is allowed to get back to work this summer or fall, it’ll be imperative that Brennan and Chase try to develop that same synergy that Joe Burrow and Chase had a season ago.
Tyler Shelvin (No. 18 overall)
The stats for a player like Shelvin can be misleading as he recorded 39 tackles, three of which were for a loss in 2019. But make no mistake, he was one of the Tigers best defensive players.
At 6-foot-3, 346 pounds, Shevin’s ability to take on multiple offensive linemen allowed his teammates to make plays around him. That’s the most important trait that Shelvin possesses and his junior season won’t change that role.
Tyler Shelvin would have been a first-rounder if he entered the 2020 draft class. He's already regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in college and will only improve that status with another monster season in Baton Rouge.
With the Tigers making the switch to the 4-3, Shelvin becomes all the more important as the whole purpose is for the defensive line to put as much pressure on the quarterback as possible without having to blitz a ton of extra men. If Shelvin can continue to absorb multiple o-linemen on a given play, it frees up the pass rushers to get after the quarterback consistently.
Terrace Marshall (No. 23 overall)
The other half of possibly the best receiving duo in college football next year, Marshall’s 2019 season might’ve fared closer to Chase’s if not for a foot injury that held him out for a month of the season. Regardless, he was still able to haul in 11 touchdowns and was one of Burrow’s favorite red zone targets standing at 6-foot-4.
A full season of health will helps Marshall’s draft stock immensely and also the Tigers 2020 season. Brennan will be surrounded by all the weapons he can handle and Marshall will be one of his favorites.
Marshall is poised for a breakout as he replaces the lost production of Jefferson, but unlike the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings, this LSU wideout has elite size at 6'4" and 200 pounds. He's a lot like 2020 prospect Tee Higgins with his length and ability to track the ball down the field.
JaCoby Stevens (No. 24 overall)
After Grant Delpit’s breakout season in 2018, it was Stevens who broke onto the scene in 2019 with a very similar role to Delpit’s the year prior. As a hard-hitting, playmaking safety, Stevens thrived at the line of scrimmage, recording 92 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five sacks and three interceptions.
He was all over the field in his breakout junior season and probably would’ve been a day two pick had he decided to declare for this year’s draft. An extra year of improving down the field in coverage will do wonders for Stevens’ draft stock and will certainly be the “quarterback” of the defense in 2020.
Coaches at Baton Rouge already believe Stevens has first-round potential, and it's easy to agree with that after watching him play in person four times last season. Stevens has range, but he's also a responsible, smart player in coverage who can fill the need for a versatile defender at the position.