NFL Draft: LSU Alums Looking to Play on Sundays

I have never been much for listening to the prognosticators at the 3- and 4-letter networks. I believe in putting in the work, watching the film, and studying the player’s competencies. Then, coming to my conclusion on the ability of a player.

For example, Kolton Miller of UCLA is heralded as a top three tackle by several outlets. But the tale of the tape leaves me scratching my head. In my estimation, Miller is highly athletic but meek and will be nearly incompetent as a pass blocker on the next level. I would give him a third-round grade due to his high athleticism and his superb run blocking on the second level.

With that in mind, here’s my assessment of the potential LSU Tiger draftees.

DJ Chark – WR

Another chapter in the long list of wide receivers produced from LSU. Chark is a tall, rangy receiver that has excellent speed. He is also a body catcher, and some things he should work on is his upper body strength and underneath routes. While Chark can beat corners over the top and keep safeties a step or two back, he has a trimmed route tree and will struggle against defensive backs that like to scrap in press man. He will have to polish his routes and add some weight to his frame. However, his performance at the combine (the only time I have seen him catch a pass with his hands) all but guarantees he will go in the 2nd round or higher.

Will Clapp – G

Clapp is a run blocking mauler that needs some refinement in the passing game. He should have played another year at LSU to hone his technique and hand placement while also building strength in his lower body. The lack of power keeps Clapp from sitting down on a defender with balance and maximized strength. While Clapp lacks the lower body strength, he does have the upper body strength to overcome this, to some degree. He does this by leaning forward, which often leads to Clapp being on the ground.

Clapp impressed at the combine with his agility and showed some nimbleness of foot. He is estimated to go somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round.

Toby Weathersby – OT

As far as his measurements go, he checks in at 6’6” and 308 lbs. Though he does seem extremely top heavy and he might have the thinnest but strongest legs of an offensive lineman going into the draft. Like the rest of the LSU line, he is a merciless run blocker that needs some to clean up his blocking in the passing game. He will be a perfect addition to an NFL team looking for a swing tackle but may play better at guard on the next level.

While at the combine, Weathersby showed some balance and decent footwork. Look for him to go as a project player in the 4th round, while others place him later in the 5th or possibly 6th round.

Darrel Williams – RB

The back up to Guice in 2017, Williams picked up 820 yards on 145 carries and 331 yards from receptions. That was good enough for a respectable 5.7 yards per attempt. The bowling-ball style back is hard to take down once he gets going, often twisting and turning for an extra yard or two.  Slightly hidden by names like Guice and Fournette, Williams has been working his way into the war rooms of most NFL teams, since a good performance at the Senior Bowl.

Darrel Williams would be a perfect Thunder addition to a team’s Lightning running back. Look for Williams to go in the 6th round, or signed as an undrafted free agent

Derrius Guice – RB

Perhaps one of the smoothest and arm-breakingly violent 2016 runners in college football, Guice fought nagging injuries throughout the 2017 season. Guice had a down year (if you would like to call it that) digging out a 5.3 per carry average, compared to his 7.6 sophomore campaign.  NFL scouts have had to decide on whether to judge Guice by his 2016 or his 2017 performance. Although according to an unnamed LSU assistant coach, “… he wasn’t even back up to his top speed until the bowl game.”

If Guice can do some convincing at the combine, he may raise all the way to the 1st round but don’t kid yourself, if you think that he will be available after the first 30 minutes of the second day of the draft. He has an extra gear once he hits the open field and accelerates through the hole. If he wants to excel in the NFL, he needs to stay healthy and work on his pass protection as Guice only seems capable of kneecapping blitzers like he was hired by an embittered figure skater.

Donte Jackson – CB

Breaking the 40 record? I watched Ross do it last year and look what he has put together. That doesn’t impress me, as much as, interceptions and keeping running backs from taking the corner, slick. He did have some production getting at least one hand on the ball 11 times over the course of his junior season and added 49 tackles. His ability to cover inside and outside makes him more valuable.

Jackson is rightly graded as a 2nd round grade by anyone, and if he were 2 inches taller standing at 6 foot, he would be picked up in the 1st round. He deserves to be in the 2nd because Tom Landry couldn’t coach a player into a 4.32 40 time at the combine and a 4.31 at his pro day.

Arden Key – DE/OLB

First off, Key is not an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and whoever believes he is, count yourself among the Flat Earth Society members. He needs to have his hand in the dirt because he is not fast (4.85 40-yard dash), but he has burst. A player that could have been a lock for the 1st round in 2016 Key fell off in 2017 and were it not for his off-field issues; it may have gotten overlooked as he was playing out of position.

Key has the burst, bend, and length to be productive. He could be one of the better pass rushers in the draft, but he lacks the technical aspects needed to succeed out of the gate. No team will be willing to spend more than a 3rd round pick on a player that effectively has the tools to one day be serviceable in pass rushing situations.

Kevin Toliver – CB

Toliver is intriguing as a prospect because he has the ability but has not put forth the desired production. In 2017 he had 28 tackles, and ten passes defended with one interception as a junior.  That’s not terrible production, but it isn’t anything that will catapult anyone into the 1st round. During his tenure at LSU, he dealt with injuries, suspensions, and stiff competition at LSU.

He will go in the 5th unless someone else sees something I do not, he should go no later than the back of the 4th. Toliver could have made a case as a Day 2 pick by running the 40-yard dash. Look for some team to take Toliver early on Day 3.

 

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 (Photo Courtesy Athlon Sports)

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