The LSU Tigers perennially make a huge impact on the NFL Draft, each year sending a plethora of elite talent to the professional ranks. In the 2014 NFL Draft, 9 Tigers were selected. The year before that, 9 were selected. Since 2008, 48 (!) players have been selected overall, an absolutely ridiculous number. For comparison’s sake, the Alabama Crimson Tide, considered by many as the gold standard for pumping out prospects, have had 41 in that time. Despite staggering personnel losses each year, the Tigers reload time and time again thanks to tremendous recruiting efforts.
So who are the top pro prospects for the Tigers in 2014? Considering the immense talent on this team, you can almost label every player on the team a legit pro prospect, but for sake of brevity, we’ll just break down a few of the top 2015 NFL Draft-eligible prospects on the Tigers team this fall. And considering just how much talent there is, we’ll break down offense and defense separately.
We’ll start with offense, and the big name by far is OT La’el Collins, the top prospect on the team by a good margin. Collins is a former mega recruit (aren’t they all?), and has absolutely lived up to the billing during his 3 years in Baton Rouge, starting 25 games at LG and LT the past two seasons. His versatility is a major plus, and has the size, strength and skill set to project highly either inside or out at the next level. He probably would’ve been a late first round pick had he come out last year, and with another terrific year in ’14, has the chance to be a top-15 pick.
Next to Collins is junior LG Vadal Alexander, a massive 6-foot 6, 342-pound road grader with 22 consecutive starts under his belt, who also looks to have a bright future in the NFL, whether it’s in ’15 or ’16. At this point, he’s one of the best guard prospects in the country, though considering his length and power, I actually think his best fit at the next level will be at RT, though he’ll need to shed some pounds and improve his footwork.
On the right side is redshirt sophomore OT Jerald Hawkins, who, providing he doesn’t leave early, will be the blindside heir apparent to Collins. Hawkins (6-foot 6, 301-pounds) has tremendous length and reach, and his athleticism is abundantly clear when you watch his film. I’m actually a little surprised at how under-the-radar Hawkins is at this point by pundits and draftniks, despite earning Freshman All-American last year. He’s obviously still raw, but his upside is tremendously high. I expect big things from him in ’14, and with continued development, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him declare early.
You might be wondering, aren’t there any skill position prospects? Well, remember, the Tigers had three receivers selected in the ’14 Draft, two running backs and QB as well. The skill position players will largely be made up of underclassmen this fall, but senior RB Terrence Magee could also make some noise.
Magee might not have great size at 5-foot 9, but packs a wallop at close to 220-pounds. Magee has a nose for the end zone, and reached the exalted tips of the field an impressive 8 times in ’13, despite only getting a fraction of the carries as starter Jeremy Hill, and averaging 7.3 YPC. Magee will once again likely play second fiddle to a rockstar talent in front of him (this time it could be heralded true frosh Leonard Fournette), but should drastically increase on his 86 carries. I don’t necessarily see Magee as a three-down back, but he could have a future in ‘The League’ as a 3rd down back with some looks on the goal line.