It is hard to believe that as recently as 2016, there were no LSU players selected in the first round in back-to-back NFL drafts.
Talk about making up for lost time. Eight LSU products have gone in the first round the last six drafts, with nine others being selected in the second round.
Former teammates Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase played starring roles in the Cincinnati Bengals’ run to the Super Bowl. According to the NFL betting lines, Burrow is tied for 14th and Chase is tied for 19th in the odds to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year honor.
The previous year, running back Leonard Fournette and linebacker Devin White were front and center when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. The running back on the other team was Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Five players out of LSU went in the first round in the 2020 draft, with a total of 14 members of the national championship team being selected. More recently, 10 Tigers were chosen in the 2022 draft.
Here’s a breakdown of the storylines involving LSU products currently in the NFL.
Best Position – Wide Receiver
A team with Terrace Marshall, DJ Chark and Russell Gage would cause nightmares for NFL defensive coordinators. That is just the start of things. When LSU rolled to the 2019 national championship, Chase and Justin Jefferson put up some staggering numbers.
Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jefferson led the Tigers with 111 catches as he finished with 1,540 yards and 18 TDs. Marshall was the No. 3 receiver on that squad and reached the end zone 13 times.
The gift of grab did not end when they left LSU. Jefferson was the runner-up in the 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting with 88 catches and 1,400 yards. He followed that up with 108 catches for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Chase had 1,455 yards on 81 catches with 13 TDs to each the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
— NFL (@NFL) July 28, 2022
According to the NFL predictions, Jefferson’s projected yardage total in 2022 of 1,350.5 is the highest in the NFL while Chase coming in third at 1225.5.
There’s also Jarvis Landry, who had at least 80 receptions in each of his first six NFL seasons before a a dip in performance in his last two seasons. He has a chance to revive his career with the New Orleans Saints.
With all of that talent, it is easy to forget that Odell Beckham Jr. — a teammate of Landry — also came out of the LSU program. The only reason he isn’t mentioned higher is that he isn’t currently on an NFL roster, but that could change.
Shutting Things Down
Some of the wide receiver/cornerback matchups at LSU practices must have been something to behold.
Imagine the showdowns between Chark and fellow 2018 draftee Donte Jackson. How about Kristian Fulton in man-to-man coverage on Jefferson?
Actually, the top cover corner on that 2019 LSU team was freshman Derek Stingley Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the most recent draft. Whenever starters matched up with starters, Stingley would draw either Chase or Jefferson. There could be no better preparation.
Two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White, a first-round pick by Buffalo in 2017, Donte Jackson, Greedy Williams, Fulton and now Stingley and 2022 third-round pick Cordale Flott are among the cornerbacks taken in the NFL Draft since 2017.
Third Time’s the Charm
While the players selected in the first and second rounds in recent NFL drafts might be dominating the headlines, the impact of some third-round picks has been rather impressive.
Offensive linemen Damien Lewis and Lloyd Cushenberry were taken in the third round in 2020. In 2018 it was defensive end Arden Key. Defensive end Danielle Hunter has the most sacks of any players taken in the 2015 draft while 2014 third-round pick Trai Turner is an offensive lineman who earned five straight trips to the Pro Bow. Perhaps the best of the third-round selections out of LSU is safety Tyrann Mathieu. Even from a program that has sent so many defensive backs into the NFL, a three-time Pro Bowler like Mathieu stands out.
With that in mind, keep an eye on cornerback Cordale Flott and running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who were selected by the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers in the third round in the most recent draft.
Looking into the Future
Here’s a look at the players from LSU with the brightest NFL futures.
- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals QB: It was a tough choice whether to go with the quarterback or one of the receivers first.
Burrow guided Cincinnati to the Super Bowl in his second season and no quarterback who was a former No. 1 overall pick can make that claim. As good as Burrow was during the 2021 season, that is not even close to where he will be in the future.
- Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals WR: Remember when the Bengals were criticized for passing on an offensive lineman to select Chase fifth overall in the 2021 draft. The combination of Burrow and Chase was unstoppable at times.
- Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings WR: Jefferson is putting up sensational numbers with Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball. Just envision what he could be doing in a more passing-friendly offense. We could find out now that offensive guru Kevin O’Connell has been named Minnesota’s head coach.
- Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB: Anybody wondering how good White has been for Tampa Bay might want to pop in the tape from the four games he missed during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The Tampa Bay defense looks completely different when White isn’t on the field.
White was at his best in the 2020 postseason with 27 solo tackles in wins over New Orleans, Green Bay and Kansas City.
- Derek Stingley Jr., Houston Texans CB: Cornerbacks don’t usually go in the top three in drafts. If Stingley reverts back to the level he showed as a freshman with six interceptions and 15 pass breakups, the Texans have themselves an elite cover corner.
According to the NFL picks, Stingley (+1000) is tied for the best odds among defensive backs to be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Don’t look now but another elite receiver could be coming out of LSU. Kayshon Boutte is being projected as a possible top-10 pick in the 2023 draft. There could have been another first-round pick from LSU if cornerback Eli Ricks hadn’t transferred to Alabama for the 2022 season.
BJ Ojulari has seen his brother Azeez thrive as a pass rusher with the New York Giants. Could BJ be the better of the brothers?
The sportsbook has both Boutte and Ojulari at +6600 in the odds to be the top overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.