Fresh off a national championship season, LSU boasted an FBS-leading 16 representatives in this week’s 2020 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and many former Tigers either improved or solidified their draft stock with impressive showings.
LSU is expected to dominate the early rounds of April’s NFL Draft, highlighted by projected No. 1 pick Joe Burrow, Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit and edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson.
While the combine is defined by performances in the 40-yard dash, the broad jump, gauntlet drill and more, LSU’s presence at the podium may have carried just as big of an impact on scouts.
By choosing not to throw or workout, Burrow surely wasn't expecting to catch headlines in Indianapolis, but he did for his measurements, specifically surrounding his 9-inch hand size. Pun intended, many forget he had no issues holding the Heisman and national championship trophies.
Burrow also cleared up the narrative that he wouldn’t, or doesn’t want to play for the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday morning.
“Of course I want to be the first pick. That’s every kid’s dream,” Burrow said. “I’m a ball player, who ever picks me, I’m going to show up. I’ll play for whoever drafts me.”
Sitting out most of 2018 with a torn ACL, K’Lavon Chaisson bounced back with 60 tackles (34 solo) and 6.5 sacks this season. A handful of mock drafts have Chaisson getting selected towards the end of the first round, while some have the former No. 18 going as high as the middle of round one.
For Chaisson, it’s simple. He believes he’s the most versatile player in the draft.
“I’m the most valuable player in this draft,” Chaisson said confidently. “When you hire someone, do you want someone that speaks one language or three languages? I can speak three -- rush the passer, drop in coverage, and I can play the run.”
On the field, a couple of performances stood out from the rest.
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson posted a 4.43 in his 40-yard dash, which finished T-8 among receivers that ran. Although he may stand just 5-foot-7, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s heart can’t be measured, registering a 39.5-inch vertical leap, which ranked T-3 at the running back position.
“Every question was answered this year. Every week it was always something,” Edwards-Helaire said. “Does he have breakaway speed? Then I’d bust an 80-yard touchdown. Can he make a guy miss? Then I’d make plenty of guys miss.”
Another LSU prospect that seems to be shooting up draft boards is linebacker Patrick Queen, who broke out in 2019 with 77 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks alongside Jacob Phillips. Queen was named the National Championship Game MVP after recording a team-leading eight tackles vs. Clemson on Jan. 13.
In his 40-yard dash, Queen showcased his speed with a time of 4.50, which finished fourth best among linebackers.
The main takeaway: No LSU players hurt their draft stock at the combine. For many prospects, individual drills inside Lucas Oil Stadium can be stressful. But for most former Tigers, they all left Indianapolis primed to shake Commissioner Goodell’s hand in Las Vegas.