Of all the positions on the returning LSU Tigers football team in 2016, defensive line might be the most difficult to project this early because of the uncertainty of players declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft.
As things stand none of LSU’s defensive linemen has declared, but Lewis Neal, Christian Lacouture, Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture are all eligible.
Christian LaCouture has requested an evaluation from the NFL advisory committee, usually a preliminary to declaring. This may just be a testing the waters situation though, and he may receive a grade that nudges him toward staying in school for another season.
Anyone familiar with Davon Godchaux’s tough background situation would understand him taking the three and out route, but he is a very talented player who has a shot at working himself into the upper echelons of the first round with a little more seasoning.
Lewis Neal is another player who can play in the NFL right now but could jump up the draft rankings with another year in the LSU weight room and another season working with pass rush guru Ed Orgeron.
If Neal returns next year lined up opposite freshman sensation Arden Key this could give LSU the best pair of pass rushers in the country.
Deondre Clark, MJ Patterson and Sione Teuhema also figure to work for reps on the DE depth chart, as does Freshman Isaiah Washington. Early reports had Washington very close to Key in terms of physical gifts and he should make it on the field a lot more in 2016.
Defensive Tackle is a little more of a worry, depending on who LSU loses to the draft.
Oct 10, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Perry Orth (10) throws as LSU Tigers defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (57) pressures during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
If LaCouture and Godchaux both leave, backups Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore are going to move into the starting roles, at least initially.
Herron and Gilmore starting may worry some Tigers fans who saw a fall off when the starters were resting and the backups struggled to produce in some games this year. Both started coming on a bit late in the season and look more ready to play a big role for LSU in 2016.
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Of course if Godchaux and LaCouture return for another season the starting talent and depth will both look very good going into the fall, and that isn’t counting the expected help from this years recruiting class.
Recruitng is going very strong for LSU this year at the Defensive Line positions. Rahssan Thornton Andre Anthony and Caleb Roddy have all given verbal commitments at DE.
Ed Alexander and Glen Logan have both given verbals at DT. LSU is also in the mix for Louisiana’s top player, Neville DT Rashard Lawrence and St. Augustine DT D’Andre Christmas-Giles.
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Christmas-Giles wasn’t heavily recruited initially and bit on the first major scholarship he was offered by Tennessee. He backed off that pledge when LSU also offered, and he has since received offers from several other top programs.
He and Lawrence are both LSU leans though, and the Tigers are also in the mix for several other high profile D-Line recruits in what is starting to look like a very special group.
Early defections to the NFL draft could hurt the LSU Defensive Line more than any other position group, but either way the returning talent look ready to play and the recruiting class is shaping up to be a special group.
When LSU was on top of the SEC, they did it behind dominant play in the trenches. Coach Ed Orgeron is bringing the swagger back at a position that produced great players and great results on the field for years……