Where LSU Football Stands After 2020 NFL Draft Decisions
There will be plenty of turnover with the LSU program from a coaching and player personnel standpoint in 2020. The Tigers lost nine veteran starters from the national championship team but also returned seven players that will be significant pieces for the team next year.
Here's a breakdown of who's staying and who's leaving and what each move means for LSU and the 2020 season.
Losing who many inside and out of the program believed to be the "heart" of the 2019 LSU offense will make for a huge gap to fill. Edwards-Helaire was so versatile on the field that when he was hampered by a hamstring injury, the belief was LSU would need to use three running backs in the Peach Bowl game against Oklahoma.
LSU will now hope that those freshmen, Tyrion Davis-Price, John Emery and Chris Curry can make the requisite jump to lead the backfield in 2020. LSU is also looking to wrangle in a running back into the 2020 class, the popular name at the moment being Jahmyr Gibbs, currently a Georgia Tech commit.
While Jefferson is certainly not an easy player to replace, the Tigers do have some depth returning at wide receiver. LSU returns Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall next season and could ask Trey Palmer or Devonta Lee to step in as a replacement for Jefferson in the slot.
Incoming freshmen Kayshon Boutte and Koy Moore could also push for a spot in fall camp.
The Thorpe award winner and two time All-American was a shoe in to leave for the draft after this season. Delpit is a loss anyway you slice it but the secondary won't fall apart in 2020 by any stretch.
The Tigers will be getting Todd Harris back next year at deep safety and the late-season play of freshman Maurice Hampton is encouraging heading into next year.
To cap it off junior safety JaCoby Stevens, a leader in the secondary and one of the Tigers most consistent players in 2019, announced he'd be returning for his senior year. With Derek Stingley, Elias Ricks and Cordale Flott at corner, LSU has all of the makings to be an elite secondary in 2020.
Chaisson's decision to enter the 2020 draft comes as probably the least surprising given his natural ability and athleticism. After a strong finish to the season and the likelihood of some eye-popping numbers at the NFL combine, Chaisson could very well be a first round pick.
LSU has now lost Chaisson, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen and Michael Divinity in the linebacker room. The most likely candidate to win the outside linebacker job is freshman Marcel Brooks, who converted from safety to outside linebacker during the season. The team would like to add some weight on Brooks' over the offseason but the freshman played well in spot situations for the Tigers this year.
Moss will officially follow in the footsteps of his father, Randy, and attempt to make his NFL dream come true. After two years of not playing due to transfer and injury, Moss broke the receptions and yardage record in his lone season as a starter.
With Moss now out of the fold, freshman five-star and the highest graded tight end in recruiting history, Arik Gilbert, will be tasked with leading the tight end unit right from the start. The Tigers also have junior Jamal Pettigrew still on the roster but it will be Gilbert who will likely be tasked with carrying the group right from the start.
The loss of Cushenberry is probably one of the toughest to swallow for LSU as his leadership and poise made him one of the go to guys in the locker room during the championship run.
Sophomore Chasen Hines, who was battling Adrian Magee for the left guard spot in fall camp, eventually made the switch to backup center and will likely be given first crack at winning the job in the Spring.
With Cushenberry and Charles declared and Damien Lewis and Adrian Magee both being seniors, junior right tackle Austin Deculus is the only remaining starter who will be back with the team.
Freshman tackle Dare Rosenthal started three games for Charles, who was serving suspensions, and will be next in line with senior tackle Badara Traore also gone.
Queen was another one of those players where it seemed like it go either way if stayed or declared. He ultimately decided to strike while the iron was hot after an eight tackle performance in the national championship earned him defensive player of the game.
Sophomore Damone Clark seems like a shoe in to earn one of the inside linebacker positions. Clark recorded 50 tackles, four tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 14 appearances, including three starts.
The other half of the 2019 inside linebacker starting unit to leave early, Phillips led the team in tackles this season. Outside of Clark, Micah Baskerville is the only other returning player with experience but only recorded 15 tackles, four tackles for a loss and a sack in 2019.
Incoming freshmen Antoine Sampah and Josh White could both challenge for the other inside linebacker spot next to Clark.
No way around this one, Stevens return for a senior season is the best piece of news LSU has received since winning the championship Monday night.
Stevens is viewed as one of the main voices in the locker room and will likely be a candidate for the prestigious No. 18 should K’Lavon Chaisson leave for the NFL. Stevens recorded 92 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five sacks and three interceptions in 2019.
Kary Vincent Jr. (cornerback)
Getting Vincent back to cover that slot corner position is an important development. With Stevens, Vincent, Derek Stingley, Todd Harris, Elias Ricks, Cordale Flott and Maurice Hampton all set to return, the secondary shouldn't succumb to much, if any dropoff.
Tyler Shelvin (nose tackle)
Shelvin's stats most definitely don't show the impact he had on the Tigers this season. As a former No. 1 player in Louisiana, Shelvin finally started living up to the hype in 2019.
Shelvin recorded 39 tackles and three tackles for a loss during his redshirt sophomore year but it's his ability to take on multiple offensive linemen that allow his teammates to have success at rushing the passer around him. That skill is something that will translate into next year.
Glen Logan (defensive end)
Logan is someone who came in with high expectations for 2019 but didn't quite live up to them. In 12 games, Logan recorded 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Tigers.
Logan did finish the season strong with two tackles, one tackle for a loss and 0.5 sacks in the 42-25 win over Clemson.
Austin Deculus (offensive tackle)
The only starting member of the 2019 season that will return in 2020, Deculus will be tasked with leading the group in his fourth and final season. Deculus improved exponentially from 2018 to 2019, so much so there was reason to think he might actually leave for the NFL draft.
With Deculus back in the fold at right tackle, LSU won't have to go through a total rebuild on the o-line but will need to find answers at both guard positions.
Ed Ingram will almost certainly take control of that left guard position and with freshman four-star Kardell Thomas coming back from ankle surgery, could be another candidate for the right guard spot. LSU also signed Marcus Dumervil to the 2020 class and he could push for either a guard or tackle position in the fall.