Top NFL Draft Prospects On Defense For LSU Tigers In 2014

By Rick Stavig
LSU Tigers, NFL Draft
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the kind of talent the LSU Tigers send off to the professional ranks year in and year out. Thanks to tremendous recruiting, there’s perennially little drop off. We already took a look at the Tigers top pro prospects on offense eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft here, and now we’ll check out the defense.

We’ll start up front at defensive end with Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter. Rasco, a senior, is slightly undersized at 6-foot 3, 262-pounds, but is very athletic with an explosive first step. He’s currently coming off shoulder surgery which kept him out of spring ball, but should be fully healthy for fall camp. I really like his bend and lateral quickness, but I’m not sure I see him playing up front at the next level, instead thinking he’ll be making the switch to OLB in an odd front.

Hunter, a junior, is the latest physical marvel up front for the Tigers, showing good bend and tremendous length at 6-foot 6, 241-pounds. I really like his upside at the next level, and has the potential to play up front in an even front or OLB in an odd. He’s instinctive with his get-off, shows violent hands and uses his long arms well, both for keeping linemen off his chest and for batting down balls.

The linebacking unit features two prominent prospects in junior WLB Kwon Alexander and senior MLB D.J. Welter. Alexander has the highest upside of the unit, and shows the ability to play all three linebacker positions in an even front. He has good range, showing sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability, is equally strong against the run and the pass, and is a special teams demon to boot. I like his potential at the next level, though I think he’ll be relegated to a 43 front unless he plans to put on some more weight.

Welter is the QB of the defense, the heady leader who makes the calls and adjustments up front. He’s somewhat limited athletically but makes up for it with his high football IQ. He’s average in range but has very good closing speed and is mechanically sound. I like his future inside a 34 front, as well as most special teams units. Shows good leadership skills on and off the field.

Just to note, I should mention junior SLB Lamar Louis, who I think could be in store for a big 2014 season, but he just doesn’t have the size to play LB at the next level (6-foot, 215-pounds). I think he’ll make the switch to SS when he reaches the NFL as he has good range and is strong against the run, but he’ll need to continue making big steps in his development.

Finally we get to the secondary, which is once again full of top talent. Junior Jalen Mills is the top talent and is arguably the best FS in the country (though Alabama’s Landon Collins might disagree).

Mills has a ton of upside at the next level and shows the skills to excel in coverage and step up in the box and make a stop (he could even play CB at the next level). He’s in a pickle right now though, and may not even play this fall as he’s currently suspended indefinitely on charges of felony battery for allegedly punching a woman in the face. Latest reports are that the charges may be dropped, and that he may not have been the one to hit the lucky lady. Regardless, it doesn’t help your draft stock to have your name attached to this story.

Junior CB Jalen Collins is another top talent to pay attention to this fall. He’s blessed with tremendous size and quickness for the position (6-foot 2, 200-pounds), and is known as a very hard worker, good leader, and is popular due to his work in FCA and outreach programs. His skills in press coverage will make him a hot commodity at the professional level.

Ronald Martin is one of the top senior strong safeties in the country. He’s the leader of the secondary and makes coverage audibles for the unit. He has excellent read and react and diagnostic skills, which constantly place him in the middle of the action.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on Google+.


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