Last year’s LSU rookies had incredible luck in their landing spots in the NFL draft.
A corner drafted by a team with a coach who specializes in turning DB’s into stars, a LB drafted by a coach who specializes in turning LB’s into stars, a DE drafted by a coach who specializes in turning D_Linemen into stars.
This year did not offer the same kind of storylines. Still, Atlanta is an intriguing possibility for LSU linebacker Deion Jones.
Atlanta is committed to becoming faster and more athletic on D, two words that describe Deion Jones perfectly. That’s the good news.
LSU fans know Deion Jones well from his years as a special teams star, but he is only a one year starter. On a team looking for quick fixes, his lack of experience could become an issue.
Jones will help out immediately on special teams and should grow into the kind of starter Saints fans won’t look forward to seeing twice a year, fairly soon.
Nov 14, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins (65) carries the flag of France onto the field before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jerald Hawkins was the next Tiger drafted. Like Deion Jones, Hawkins is a bit of an unfinished product at this point.
Les Miles wanted Hawkins to stay at LSU for another year and he really needed the extra time in the weight room to develop. Hawkins is a superior athlete for the tackle position, but he got pushed around too much last year; particularly after Dillon Gordon was injured.
This could be a tough situation in Pittsburgh. They have an immediate need at Tackle, and won’t want to wait for Hawkins to sit on the bench and develop. He has stepped into a high pressure situation on a playoff team with a rabid fan base, and he will have to produce quickly.
If the Steelers show some patience here and bring Hawkins along, they may have quietly pulled off one of the steals of this draft.
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
No other Tigers were drafted until the seventh round, which saw both Jalen Mills and Vadal Alexander go off the board.
Both were surprises, since they had been mocked anywhere from the second to the fourth many times leading into the draft.
Teams may have been concerned about lingering effects from Mills broken leg last summer, and Vadal Alexander had a pretty bad combine appearance. He showed up out of shape and teams question the commitment of a prospective employee who shows up unprepared for a job interview.
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No one likes to see a local favorite slide in the draft, but Mills and Alexander may have landed in a better spot than Jones and Hawkins.
They are both on teams with a need, and they both have the athleticism to fill that need. But as seventh round picks they won’t have the same level of scrutiny and pressure on them that higher picks face.
Jalen Collins can talk attest to that. Last year, he was touted as a prospect who needed time to develop by the Atlanta coaches and front office. By the time camp started, the Atlanta media was calling for the second rounder to produce immediately.
When Collins played like the work in progress he was, the “bust” tag started being bandied about— in the third week of training camp.
The smaller checks that seventh rounders receive won’t please Alexander and Mills much, and it’s hard to blame them. Having the space to quietly focus on earning a roster spot and improving their skills will likely help both of them over time.
There was one other draft pick with an LSU connection taken in this years draft. The 49ers took Rashard Robinson in the fourth round. Any LSU fan can tell them they got a big time talent carrying a big load of extra baggage.
I wish Robinson well at the next level, and hopefully he will represent the 49ers better than he represented LSU. He certainly has the talent to do so, and if he’s learned his lessons and grown up a bit he could be a ‘Honey Badger-type’ story of redemption and NFL stardom.
All in all, this was a quiet NFL draft for LSU fans. Not what the Tiger faithful are used to, but that will change next year. One respected website that has very comprehensive draft coverage, has already started 2017 mock drafts. Their current update features seven LSU Tigers in the first round. That’s right: SEVEN.
With talent like that it’s going to be an exciting fall, with an exciting graduating ceremony with Roger Goodell calling the names of Tigers from the podium next April…….