LSU fans are used to seeing a large group of players participate every year at the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and seeing at least one or two of the Tommy Moffit-trained athletes putting on a superman style show during testing there.
Neither one of those was the case this year. The group was small overall, with only four LSU players in attendance. Well, five if you count Rashard Robinson.
The LSU contingent didn’t put on any record setting or position leading numbers, a year after Kwon Alexander and Danielle Hunter both led their position groups.
Still, the players performed for the scouts and helped solidify their positions going into the draft on April 28-30 in Chicago.
Vadal Alexander, projected Top 3 Guard
Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; LSU Tigers offensive lineman Vadal Alexander participates in workout drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
After seeing Vadal Alexander perform at the combine, it’s clear that he has a weak team advising him on how to go through the process. Otherwise, he would have faked an injury and skipped the drills and testing altogether.
Alexander showed up clearly out of shape. He ran the slowest 40 yard dash of the entire field and didn’t look good doing it. He failed to make up for the lack of speed with a strong showing on the bench press, where he put up a very middle-of-the-pack 25 reps.
Well, it could have been worse, but only if he had done the Chris Jones move and busted right out of his pants before getting embarrassed and belly flopping on the turf to cover his dangling parts. Nothing would be worse than that turf burn!
Going into the combine, the main question on Vadal Alexander was whether he could possibly play tackle, instead of guard. After seeing him run, the main question is was his game tape enough to overcome the obvious lack of elite athleticism.
Deion Jones, projected Top 5 OLB
Nov 28, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers linebacker Deion Jones (45) tackles Texas A&M Aggies running back Tra Carson (5) during the second half at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Texas A&M Aggies 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Deion Jones was a career special teamer with a shot at finally winning a starting job for his senior season.
Now he is coming off an outstanding season that saw him on award watchlists.
When the draft season started Jones was looked at as a mid round reach; but as analysts started breaking down his tape, he started getting some real buzz.
This won’t surprise LSU fans who saw Jones blossom into one of the best pass coverage linebackers in the country, while showcasing sideline to sideline run stopping and pass rushing ability.
Jones didn’t run a WR-type 40 like his teammate Kwon Alexander did last year, but he performed well enough to solidify projections showing him as a Top 50 Draft Prospect.
His 222 pound weight is still a little bit of a concern, but safety/linebacker hybrids his size are becoming more normal on NFL teams. His 4.6 forty was excellent and along with his game tape, he will be a name to watch in the second round come April.
Jalen Mills, Projected Top 5 Safety
Nov 14, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jalen Mills (28) carries the American flag onto the field before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Like Jalen Ramsey there was some question on whether Jalen Mills projects better as a corner or safety going into the combine. He settled that question with a very safety-like 40 time.
The 4.6 40 isn’t good for a corner, but is enough to grade well as a safety. Mills also put up one of the better high jump numbers for his position.
The good but not great measurables should not hurt Mills. He has good game tape, a reputation for being a team leader at LSU, and he has shown real toughness in recovering quickly from a serious injury.
Out of the 32 teams in the NFL right now, approximately 32 of them need another DB. Mills has shown enough to land in the third or fourth round.
Jerald Hawkins, Late Round/UFA Tackle Prospect
Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisiana State offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jerald Hawkins coming out early was a bit of a surprise. He probably could have helped himself with another year developing in the weight room. His tape was also a bit inconsistent, and he came out of several games this season with cramps, something NFL linemen rarely do.
Hawkins was in danger of turning into an undrafted practice squad type prospect. His combine numbers were not enough to vault him to the top of the heap, but he put up very solid numbers that should guarantee he gets picked in the late rounds.
Hawkins is still a developmental prospect but he has the athtletic ability to play tackle in the NFL and a team that can afford to sit him and work on his technique may have a future starter on their hands.
Rashard Robinson, looking for a UDFA offer
Oct 25, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels wide receiver Cody Core (88) reaches for the end zone as he score a touchdown in front of LSU Tigers defensive back Rashard Robinson (21) in the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Rashard Robinson will not be drafted. He has all the talent in the world, and if he had stayed at LSU would be a first round prospect.
He didn’t stay at LSU, he got booted from the team and his involvement in the property theft that Anthony Jennings and two teammates who were arrested (and not charged) over ended any shot he had at returning.
The long history of off the field issues combined with a lack of training and instruction should eliminate Robinson from any team’s draft board. Other players have been drafted after as bad or worse but they went to another school to recover their reputation — whereas Robinson is going straight into the draft.
Robinson was expected to absolutely kill the 40 and he put up a pretty average time instead. The 4.5 time wasn’t awful, and it really wasn’t even bad; but for a guy who is basically a walking red flag, it might not be enough to sneak him into the draft.
Robinson has a bright future ahead of him if he can get his head on straight, and he is potentially a top flight starting CB. He will likely need to sign on somewhere as a UDFA, to get that chance though…….