LSU won't be hurt by early entries this year
Les Miles’ NFL factory is nowhere near shutting down production, but for the first time in several years it seems like LSU won’t be crushed by early entries to the draft.
Over the last two seasons, LSU has sent 18 players to the NFL draft. Of those, 13 were players who left with eligibility remaining. With all of those departures, it was hard for LSU to put experienced talent on the field this season.
With so much youth on the team in 2014, it seems that there are less than a handful of candidates to head to the draft a year early. Kwon Alexander was one of LSU’s best linebackers this year as a junior, leading the team in tackles and providing physicality against the run. Danielle Hunter is an immensely gifted, disruptive defensive end with all the measurables and skills needed to be an NFL draft pick. Safety Jalen Mills and cornerback Jalen Collins both have the skills to jump to the NFL a year early, as well.
Outside of those, there aren’t a lot of names that could possible turn pro a year early, nowhere near as many as the last two seasons. That’s fantastic news for LSU’s young defense.
The Tigers got better and better as the season went along, specifically after Kendell Beckwith took over as the full-time middle linebacker during a 41-7 loss to Auburn in October. LSU rebounded from two ugly losses to start the SEC to end up leading the conference in pass defense and yards allowed per play, a huge accomplishment for a team brimming with youth.
Things are only going to get better next year. Instead of worrying about filling in gaps left by departing players, LSU will have more than enough talent ready to make a leap.
Tre’Davious White was one of the best cover men in the conference this year at cornerback, with speed and athleticism to match up with much bigger receivers. Beckwith was a fantastic player once he was inserted into the lineup, and he’ll only get better as he gets more comfortable.
Most exciting is the safety duo. Mills may leave and Ronald Martin is graduating, but LSU has two studs ready to step up in their places. Dwayne Thomas looked to be a budding star early this year before injuring his knee, forcing him to miss the rest of the season. He should be back at full strength by spring. Jamal Adams stepped up to play more in Thomas’ place, and he has all the makings of a star. He flies to the ball, has good instincts in coverage and hits as hard as anyone on the LSU defense.
With Collins possibly leaving and Rashard Robinson’s status with the team in question, LSU adds five-star cornerback recruit Kevin Tolliver in their place. The 6-2 recruit from Florida seems to have the physical skills that will allow him to play immediately.
Miles has done an excellent job recruiting throughout his tenure at LSU, and the number of players he’s sent to the draft only stands to prove that. After a few years where too many players to handle left school early, it looks like LSU will be fully reloaded for a run at the SEC West title in 2015.