Nine LSU Football Players Ranked In Updated Sports Illustrated's Top-100 Board
The NFL draft is a little less than three weeks away which means that teams are preparing for plans A-Z to select the best possible player at the right time. On Friday, Sports Illustrated released its updated top-100 prospects board and a nine prospects represented LSU.
Six were listed in the top-25, headlined by quarterback Joe Burrow, who is projected to go No. 1 overall, and wrapped up by safety Grant Delpit, who despite some concerns, came in highly ranked because of his potential and playmaking ability. Here's a breakdown of where each player was ranked and where they could fall in this year's draft.
Joe Burrow-Quarterback (No. 2)
Life around the LSU program changed when Burrow stepped on campus in Baton Rouge and it will change for the Cincinnati Bengals when he's drafted No. 1 overall in 18 days. While he won't get the chance to go up and shake the commissioners hand, a moment many young football stars dream of, he'll likely be surrounded by a few family and friends, which seems more his style anyway.
Despite facing seven top-10 opponents, Burrow played his best in the biggest moments as he led the Tigers to an undefeated season. Throwing an FBS-record 60 touchdowns and rushing for five more, the Heisman-winning quarterback shows tremendous poise in the pocket and throws with pinpoint accuracy.
A team like Miami, who holds three first round picks, could make a monumental trade offer to try and move up to No. 1 to snag Burrow but that seems a little far fetched.
"I know Joe doesn't want to be compared to Tom Brady and I'm not comparing him but I often think the intangibles that he has, I think Joe will be comparable to the intangibles Tom Brady has," coach Ed Orgeron said on Baton Rouge radio show "Off the Bench."
Justin Jefferson-Receiver (No. 16)
There will be a number of teams in the second half of the first round that would love to get their hands on Jefferson. As reliable a catcher in this class, Jefferson also has deceptive speed and should challenge for a starting spot from day one.
One of the biggest winners at the combine, Jefferson ran a faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.43). A nuanced route-runner with outstanding ball skills, Jefferson has the versatility to win both outside and from the slot.
In any other draft, Jefferson would probably be the kind of talent that would warrant a top-10 selection but with Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs all projected to go early, Jefferson will fall into the mid to late teens.
K'Lavon Chaisson- Outside Linebacker (No. 17)
Chaisson has the athleticism to be an elite pass pusher in the NFL but his low sack numbers have raised question marks among draft analysts. Still just 20 years old, there's plenty to like including a variety of moves at the line of scrimmage and strength.
Displaying outstanding burst and bend around the edge, Chaisson flashes elite pass-rushing upside, but he has lacked consistent sack production. Returning from his torn ACL in 2018, the 20-year-old edge rusher gained momentum down the stretch with 4.5 sacks in his final four games.
Chaisson didn't get a chance to show off his ability at a pro day, something he said in a recent interview with Sirius XM Radio, could affect him.
“I feel like it helps the teams dig deeper into film,” Chaisson said. “I’m sure they’ve been doing it already. I feel like the best way to know if you want [someone] is to film the game play.”
Patrick Queen- Inside Linebacker (No. 18)
Queen's impressive finish to the 2019 season earned him a spot in the first round and would be a great fit for a number of teams at the bottom of the first round, including the New Orleans Saints. His ability to make plays in the backfield and play sideline to sideline will be two valuable traits that will allow him to have success right away.
One of the youngest prospects in the draft (turns 21 in August), Queen played his best down the stretch during LSU’s title run as he ended his breakout junior season with six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks over the final four games. Thriving in coverage, Queen has outstanding speed and is a fluid mover with excellent change-of-direction ability.
"A.J. Klein’s departure leaves a hole next to Demario Davis. Queen would be a vast improvement athletically, as the LSU linebacker ran a 4.5 at the Combine," Pro Football Focus writer Michael Renner said.
Kristian Fulton- Cornerback (No. 20)
Fulton is projected to go as high as No. 19 or fall into the second round but there's no denying he's one of the top defensive backs in the 2020 draft pool. His technique is pure and was rarely out of position in his two seasons as a starter.
With lots of experience in press coverage, Fulton is a patient and physical corner with decent size. While he may not have elite long speed, he checked the box with a 4.46 in the 40 at the combine and he's quick, fluid and sticky in coverage.
"I think at the next level he can do anything you ask him to. He can excel in a lot of different schemes and for that reason (he is) cornerback number two on PFF’s board," PFF wrote. "A diverse coverage skill set, a good athlete, there’s a lot to like about Kristian Fulton.”
Grant Delpit- Safety (No. 23)
Delpit was the difference maker in 2018 as he exploded on the scene for the Tigers with a 74 tackle, 9.5 tackle for a loss, five sack, five interception season that earned him First-Team All-American honors. The 2019 season was a little different as tackling issues and an ankle injury hurt his draft stock.
The biggest concern with Delpit is his inconsistency as a tackler, although he dealt with a high-ankle sprain for part of the year. When healthy, Delpit is a long and rangy playmaker on the back end who had eight interceptions and 24 passes defended over his three seasons in Baton Rouge.
While he can play deep, his sweet spot at the next level will likely be to play as close to the line of scrimmage as possible as he proved to be a consistent playmaker in that role during his time at LSU.
"I know some teams have fallen off of him. But if he winds up in the right spot, and is motivated, I think he’s going to be a really good player,” ESPN's Todd McShay said back in February.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire- Running Back (No. 46)
Edwards-Helaire would be fascinating to watch in a number of different NFL offenses but the one that keeps coming to mind is Baltimore. His versatility next to Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram would be a phenomenal place for Edwards-Helaire to wind up.
Quicker than fast, Edwards-Helaire has a powerful compact frame and the lateral agility to make would-be tacklers miss in tight quarters. Especially excelling as a receiver, Edwards-Helaire runs crisp routes and has natural hands. Experienced and productive as a kick returner, CEH has the ability to contribute on all four downs.
He's shifty in the open field, doesn't go down on the first hit and is also very competent in pass blocking. He fits the mold of a modern day swiss army knife at the running back position and it'll be interesting to see where he ends up.
Lloyd Cushenberry- Center (No. 63)
A leader and wearer of No. 18 his junior season at LSU, Cushenberry will instantly impact any NFL locker room in a positive manner. As the driving force of the eventual Butkus Award winning o-line from a season ago, Cushenberry is currently valued as a day two pick.
Cushenberry did hurt his hamstring at the NFL combine while running the 40-yard dash, forcing him to sit out the rest of the drills. But his tape speaks for itself and should be one of the first centers off the board come April.
Damien Lewis- Right Guard (No. 96)
Lewis, like Cushenberry was a two-year starter on the LSU offensive line that saw the ultimate highs and lows in his career with the Tigers. After the unit struggled as a whole in 2018, Lewis was the steady force on the right side of the o-line that opened up countless running lanes for Edwards-Helaire.
The 6-foot-2, 327-pound guard is viewed as a day two prospect like Cushenberry and should be able to, if nothing else, provide necessary depth to an offensive line from day one.