The big day is upon us and once again a group of LSU players is waiting to see where they will continue their football career. This draft class isn’t as deep as last years class, but has legit first round talent and, as of this week, plenty of drama surrounding it.
This years LSU draft hopefuls features two players considered among the top at their positions: Cornerback Jaelen Collins and Offensive Tackle La’el Collins.
After both put on superb performances at the draft combine both were widely predicted to go high in the first round.
Then the trouble started.
There have been unsettling reports about two LSU players leading into the draft, Jalen Collins and La’el Collins. Both could shake up the draft picture quite a bit, making the draft even harder to predict than usual.
Still, we have a few ideas where LSU players would be a good fit, and those teams will bear a close watch whenever they are on the clock.
Tragic news came out this week involving La’el Collins. The story is still murky, but police have requested he come in for an interview about a pregnant woman who was recently murdered.
No one is sure of the exact nature of the relationship between the woman and Collins, or if he may be the father of her child.
He isn’t a suspect at this point, and has said through intermediaries that he has a solid alibi and is being questioned only as a background witness. Still, with this happening so close to the draft it has to shake some risk averse teams.
Before this news broke La’el Collins was seen as a top 10 lock.
Now? Who knows, really. .
There is no reason to suspect he is anything but a friend of someone who suffered a terrible tragedy. No reason to suspect he was involved in any way. Still, if he is tied with another player on a teams board this is the kind of thing that could make them think twice.
Ole Hotty Toddy
I think La’el Collins could fall out of the top 10.
This means he is a possibility for the Saints at #13 overall.
He is a high character guy and a top flight athlete so someone may trade up if he starts to really fall. Several teams drafting later on may be willing to take a risk on a top 10 player in the 20’s. The Lions, Colts, Panthers and Broncos are all teams with a very real need on their offensive line.
I predict that La’el Collins will drop out of the top 10, but stay in the first and go to one of those teams, most likely the Panthers who have the biggest need and a history of taking chances on players in the draft.
Apr 5, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Jalen Collins (32) during the 2014 spring game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Collins has had some limitations in coverage despite his Top 10 athleticism. There were already rumors he might be slipping down some draft boards because of this before news broke that he had failed multiple drug tests while enrolled at LSU.
I think the drug tests combined with questions from the game tape will be enough to drop Jalen Collins out of the first entirely.
This is where it gets interesting. In the second round Collins tremendous athleticism and great size for the position make him a premium for corner hungry teams, which is pretty much everyone in the NFL.
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Still, his skills don’t match every teams defense, and the character concerns will have a lot of teams walking right past him.
Two teams that might take a shot in the second are Dallas and Green Bay.
Both have a major need at corner, both like big, fast corners on the edge, and both have enough high character guys in their locker room to be willing to take a shot on a guy who will need a little extra looking after.
I predict Jalen Collins will be wearing a Packer or Cowboy hat by the end of the second round.
Oct 12, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (3) gets away from the rush of LSU Tigers defensive end Danielle Hunter (94) during the second quarter of their game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Hunter is a little like Jalen Collins on the field.
Like Jalen he plays a position that is a premium need for a lot of teams. Like Jalen he has superb athleticism. And like Jalen he didn’t always produce to the level he was capable.
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A team that needs a hybrid pass rusher will fall in love with Danielle Hunters measurables and take a shot on him in the second or third round.
Possible candidates (besides every team in the league) include the Saints, Falcons, Texans, Ravens, Bears, and Redskins.
The teams I would look closely at are the Falcons and Texans. The Falcons need is so great they will be tempted to gamble here.
The Texans on the other hand like to move JJ Watt around on passing downs where he always draws double teams. Danielle Hunter as a situational pass rusher facing one on ones every down?
I predict Houston will draft Danielle Hunter in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Aug 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; LSU Tigers linebacker Kwon Alexander (4) tackles Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
He runs like a safety, he makes plays all over the field, but he has been undisciplined and gotten out of position a little too often to look like a safe pick for anyone despite his blazing speed.
There are lot’s of teams that could use him but he sounds like a classic Rob Ryan type of project.
I predict Kwon Alexander is staying home and will be drafted by the Saints in the 3rd round.
Terrence Magee, Jarmauria Rasco, Kenny Hilliard:
Sep 20, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Kenny Hilliard (27) is tackled by Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Beniquez Brown (42) during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
They all did enough to get drafted in the late rounds, somewhere in 5-7 territory or get an offer with a small signing bonus and rookie contract attached as a “preferred” undrafted free agent.
Predicitng where this puts them is a fools game though, since late in the draft every team is throwing out it’s team needs list and just looking for decent football players who can compete for a roster spot.
Several other LSU players will get free agent attention after the draft. Evan Washington and Elliot Porter started enough games at Offensive Line in the SEC to bring in for a look.
Connor Neighbors is a long shot but he will still get invited onto someone’s spring roster for a tryout, as will Ronald Martin and Travis Dickson.
Another intriguing possibility is former LSU fullback JC Copeland. He looked like that rare fullback with some star power at one point, but a series of injuries derailed his LSU career.
His measurables were pretty blah, and he hasn’t played in two years. Still, the game tape he has is intriguing, and he stands a good chance of getting a camp invite.
The drama with the two Collins players piles on top of the usual twists and turns surrounding the draft. Disinformation level is high, intentions are murky, and teams are battening the hatches and waiting for the fireworks to start.
For LSU fans it should be a great weekend, and for another group of LSU players there will be cause to celebrate as they join their new pro teams…….