We all knew coming in that the 2020 NFL Draft class had the chance to be historic for LSU, but to say the Tigers would have seen 10 players come off the board by the end of day two seemed like a stretch.
However, after seeing five players drafted in the first round on Thursday, five more were drafted Friday, breaking the program record and tying the all time record for players drafted from the same program in the opening three rounds. The Tigers saw safety Grant Delpit, cornerback Kristian Fulton, guard Damien Lewis, center Lloyd Cushenberry and linebacker Jacob Phillips all see their NFL dreams come true.
The top of the second round was dominated by receivers, running backs and safeties but Delpit's name took a little while to be called. The once viewed top-10 talent saw two safeties (Xavier McKinney, Alabama and Kyle Dugger, Lenoir Rhyne) selected ahead of him.
Instead it was the team that's become the LSU hotspot at the NFL level that ultimately pulled the trigger on Delpit. The Cleveland Browns selected the Jim Thorpe award winner with the No. 44 overall pick, allowing Delpit to join forces with teammate Greedy Williams as well as former Tigers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
One of the reasons analysts believe Delpit fell was because of inconsistent tackling issues. Delpit, who dealt with a nagging sprained ankle towards the end of the 2019 season, said there were some days where he could barely walk but wanted to fight through the injury for his team.
"I'm so tired of hearing I can't tackle....it was tough. Sunday mornings I could barely walk but wanted to be there for my team," Delpit told the Cleveland media after the pick. "I wasn't going to let a sprained ankle keep me off the field while trying to win a national championship."
One of the surprises of the entire second day was the fall of cornerback Kristian Fulton, who many analysts viewed as a late riser and potential first-round pick. The two-year starter for the Tigers was a great value pick for the Tennessee Titans, who drafted Fulton with the No. 61 pick.
It was the secondary and the offensive line that dominated the evening for the Tigers as Lewis and Cushenberry went to the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos respectively.
Both were drafted in the third round as Lewis heard his named called first, and will now play for coach Pete Carroll, a mentor and longtime friend of Tigers' coach Ed Orgeron.
"Work ethic. Off the charts character. We knew one of the coaches at Northwest (Mississippi Community College). They brought us in the office and said, 'Coach, you'll never ever coach a better young man.' They were exactly right," Orgeron said Tuesday about Lewis.
"I'm just gonna bring that mean, nasty toughness I got. Don't change for nobody," Lewis said after being drafted.
Cushenberry, one of the unquestioned leaders of the team during it's national championship run, will have the same effect on the Broncos locker room. A soft spoken guy, Cushenberry earned the No. 18 jersey for the Tigers during their title run, the first offensive lineman to do so.
His work ethic, IQ and reliability should see him outperform his No. 83 draft spot and be a longtime starter for a Broncos team that stocked up on weapons for quarterback Drew Lock.
"I can't wait to get up there and meet my new teammates and everyone [that's] a part of the organization," Cushenberry said Friday. "The future's bright for the Denver Broncos. I can't wait to be a part of it and try to do my part to get some wins.
"I was expecting to go a little bit higher [in the draft], but I'm glad to be a part of this organization now. It is what it is, and I'm happy to be a part of such a great group of people.“
Finally, perhaps the most surprising pick of the evening was the linebacker Phillips, who will join forces with Delpit and the “NFLSU” crew up in Cleveland. Phillips was viewed by many to be a day three pick with high upside but the Browns pulled the trigger on the tackling machine.
In two seasons as a starter for the purple and gold, Phillips recorded 200 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and two sacks.
Delpit and Phillips, who now lie in the same division as quarterback Joe Burrow, had very similar answers when asked about facing their former teammate.
“I’m very excited to pick Joe off twice a year,” Delpit said.
“We could not tackle him in practice so I am going to enjoy it,” Phillips added.
So that now makes two nights and two more records for the purple and gold. The record of 14 players taken in the same draft from the same program is well within reach and the question that remains is will the Tigers go three-for-three?