Picking a top player for LSU is pretty easy since he’ll be on the cover of most preseason college football magazines this year.

After Leonard Fournette, picking the next nine best LSU players is tough. The defense last year was not vintage and it returns plenty of good, but not-yet-dominant players. The passing game was dysfunctional down the stretch and the offensive line lost both tackles.

So you have a lot of pretty good players and one guy who’s, by head and shoulders the best. Here’s how we see it:

  1. RB Leonard Fournette: LSU’s star running back is arguably the best player in college football, and he’s a throwback at the position in every sense of the word. Fournette, at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, harkens back to the days when big, fast and powerful backs like Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker dotted the “I” and ran downhill.
  2. S Jamal Adams: “DBU” always has dominant defensive backs. This year, Adams may be as good as any safety in college football, coming off a season where he had 67 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions and 6 passes broken up.
  3. CB Tre’Davious White: By coming back to school for his senior season, White may bump himself up from being a second-round draft pick to a first-rounder, continuing the tradition of high draft picks at the cornerback position coming out of Baton Rouge.
  4. RB Derrius Guice: Yeah, he’s the backup, but if not for the fact that a Heisman Trophy frontrunner was playing in front of him, Guice might be one of the nation’s rising stars. Consider this: In his freshman campaign, Guice averaged two more yards per carry (8.5) than Fournette and led all other SEC running backs, for that matter.
  5. C Ethan Pocic: The most established of LSU’s three returning starters on the offensive line, Pocic could stay at center or end up at guard or left tackle. Spring didn’t help us figure out that puzzle as he missed it with an injury.
  6. LB Kendell Beckwith: Last year was the year Beckwith was supposed to become a dominant force. He was very good with 84 tackles and 10 for loss, both stats being second on the team to the now-departed Deion Jones. Beckwith, like White and Pocic, opted to return to school for his senior year. Will he take that next step?
  7. DE Lewis Neal: The most productive of LSU’s defensive linemen last year, Neal would like to improve on the eight-sack performance of his junior year. Can he do it as a 3-4 defensive end?
  8. CB Kevin Toliver: It’s a leap of faith to project a sophomore who was hurt in the spring to become a dominant player, but all the potential is there for Toliver to continue the tradition of dominant cover corners at LSU.
  9. WR Malachi Dupre: There’s no doubting the talent in the tall and fast Dupre, who caught 43 passes for 698 yards and 6 TDs last year. For him to take the next step, the entire LSU passing game has to be more functional. For his part, he can contribute with better consistency.
  10. NT Davon Godchaux: After a pretty good season as a 4-3 defensive tackle (6 sacks, 9 tackles for loss), Godchaux moves to the middle of the defensive line as the Tigers’ nose in Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defensive front. Is he stout enough to hold up the point of attack for LSU?