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Who Else Is Eligible to Declare For 2022 NFL Draft at LSU?

Number of players eligible for the draft remains high with Tigers hoping a few veterans will stick around the program

LSU is in a tricky position with its current roster. The program has watched as many of its talented veterans have declared for the NFL draft in recent days with many more still eligible to depart the program.

It's why offensive line coach Brad Davis says the Tigers aren't just putting an emphasis on recruiting freshmen and transfer portal players to the roster but also players currently in Baton Rouge.

Most recently, LSU has watched kicker Cade York, cornerback Cordale Flott, offensive lineman Ed Ingram and cornerback Derek Stingley declare for the draft. That's a significant chunk of the Tigers' veteran class and that doesn't even include the seniors who have graduated and are set to move on to the pros.

It begs the question, who else is left in this locker room who could potentially return to the program in year one under Brian Kelly? Last year it was viewed as a big win when the purple and gold were able to return their entire starting offensive line and there just aren't that many players left who could decide to give it one more year in Baton Rouge. 

Most have been around the program for the last two years and have been a part of some serious downs, with the team racking up an unimpressive 11-12 record during that time. But there are reasons why some of these players will likely considering returning to the team under a new regime, starting with experience.

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Currently it hasn't been made public what defensive lineman Ali Gaye, linebacker Mike Jones, safety Jay Ward or offensive lineman Cam Wire will ultimately elect to do in regards to the draft. Additionally guard Chasen Hines and linebacker Micah Baskerville have reportedly entered the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl though both players have publicly denied declaring for the draft at this point. 

With some of the depth issues along the offensive line and secondary in particular, there's a case to be made for Ward, Hines and Wire to return to the program, be starters and try to improve their draft stock for next season. With the added incentive of potential NIL deals, there's even more reason for players who are on the fence declaring for the draft to return to school. 

As for the two linebackers Jones and Baskerville, there's very little doubt with the roster as currently constructed, they would be the two favorites to earn starting jobs next season. Jones really seemed to become more comfortable towards the end of the season at his inside linebacker role while Baskerville also had his best stretch of play during the final month of the season. 

It'll certainly be interesting to follow which of these positions Kelly is able to really fill in the transfer portal and in the remaining spots of the 2022 class as well.  Some of the decisions these players make in the next few weeks could influence which positions Kelly gives priority too but there's no doubt this team needs improvement in depth across the roster. 

"In the conversations that we've had, really, it's about managing a roster right now. We have to recruit our roster. What I mean by that is keeping guys in the program and then, obviously, creating a wholesale buy-in, and I think that he has been highly successful at that," interim coach Brad Davis said.