90 DT Anthony Johnson (6’3″ 304 pounds, JUNIOR)
The LSU Tigers had nine players drafted in 2013, four of which were defensive linemen from their stellar group. That being said, the best NFL prospect on the team may just be a defensive lineman anyway, and it’s #90 Anthony Johnson. Johnson finished up his sophomore season with a solid 30 tackles, and even more solid were his 10 tackles for loss, good for third on the team.
He came to LSU as the top recruit at his position, weighing around 330 pounds. Now, he’s a svelte 304 pounds and losing 30 pounds has made him noticeably quicker. His quickness, power, and length make me think that he has a chance not only to be the next great LSU defensive lineman, but he can be one of the top DTs selected come time for the 2014 NFL Draft if he chooses to leave school early.
If he can prove in his junior season that his pass rushing technique has developed (three sacks in 2012) I think he can be a top 20 pick. He has so many traits that NFL teams look for in a defensive tackle, and he’s already showing that he has great quicks and a high motor for his size. This is a player I really like and I think he can be a stud moving forward.
6 SS Craig Loston (6’2″ 205 pounds, SENIOR)
So far in my scouting, Craig Loston takes the award for the best ‘head hunter’ in the class of 2014, or anyone else who might be eligible for it. He is a strong safety prospect who has a great build at 6’2″ 205 pounds, and while he’s not as athletic as All-American teammate Eric Reid, he may turn out to be drafted similarly high. Loston is an attacker, but his overall game should improve in time. With Reid roaming the centerfield position for LSU last season, Loston was allowed to play downhill a lot more, and he excels in that area.
He has unbelievable closing speed, and his fearlessness in his hitting is remarkable. He will occasionally whiff or take a bad angle, but this guy hits like a ton of bricks and has the look of a starting NFL safety. He has a great energy on the field, and seems to really get his teammates fired up. His playmaking is infectious, and under the circumstances last year, he played some great ball. Stepping into a starting role, he finished with 55 tackles, three for a loss, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery. He also took one of his picks to the house. This is an impressive looking safety that will be one of the top players at his position come time for the 2014 NFL Draft.
57 LB Lamin Barrow (6’1″ 235 pounds, SENIOR)
Barrow may be an even better LB prospect coming out than Kevin Minter was last year as a junior, and he was picked by the Cardinals in the 2nd round. Barrow isn’t nearly as polished, but he is a heck of an athlete who put together an excellent junior season. He finished the 2012 season with 104 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five passes broken up, and a forced fumble. This guy makes plays all over the field and has great speed and pursuit. He never seems to give up on a play. Barrow is a very athletic linebacker who has good size for the WILL LB position at the next level, and appears to have the ideal skill set as well.
He has a good frame and while he’s not the prettiest tackler, he finds a way to get guys on the ground. Needs to do a better job of wrapping up ball carriers consistently, and can occasionally take too many gambles. As athletic as he is, it’s not a surprise to see him take a lot of chances on big hits. I think he is a solid day two prospect heading into his senior season with a chance to up his stock even further.
4 RB Alfred Blue (6’2″ 220 pounds, SENIOR)
Alfred Blue was looking like the #1 tailback for the Tigers through the first four games last season before tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the season. It was a huge blow for Blue, but the backfield situation has cleared up considerably for LSU since the 2012 season. Michael Ford and Spencer Ware are both in the NFL, while freshman phenom Jordan Hill is in the coaches doghouse. Blue is a shifty runner for his size with good quickness and power. His sample size–to this point–is quite small. He doesn’t have a ton of game footage to look at, but coming off of a knee injury, we should see a bigger and stronger back playing with a chip on his shoulder. He could be a grinder back in the NFL someday.
8 QB Zach Mettenberger (6’5″ 230 pounds, SENIOR)
Zach Mettenberger has all the arm talent in the world. He is a pocket passer with little/no athleticism to improvise and it was on full display last season. He isn’t an elite QB prospect, but he certainly has a bit of a Joe Flacco feel to him. I don’t know if his arm is that strong at this point, but he can certainly put some heat on his passes, and he has some nice touch when he needs to as well. He is slow, like I said, and that’s not a great trait to have in today’s NFL. If you are a slow quarterback, you’d better be able to pick apart a defense and to this point, Mettenberger hasn’t proven he can do that, or at least, he hasn’t had a chance to do so. I think he’s a potential NFL starter with a lot of good qualities, but he’s a ways off.
3 WR/RS Odell Beckham Jr. (6’0″ 187 pounds, JUNIOR)
Odell Beckham is one of the most exciting young players in college football. He is a threat to score anytime he has the ball in his hands, but he’s definitely not a refined prospect at this point. He is a smaller, leaner receiver who has great quickness and speed, but he still only managed two receiving touchdowns a year ago. That’s not so bad when you consider LSU threw 12 touchdown passes compared to rushing for 29. Beckham Jr. is an elusive playmaker who is primed to have a breakout season. I’ve been a fan of his since he was a freshman for LSU. He has a knack for making clutch plays.
80 WR Jarvis Landry (6’1″ 195 pounds, JUNIOR)
Landry finished his sophomore campaign with 56 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns. His five TDs led the Tigers in the receiving department, and he has shown some flashes of what made him such a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. Capable of making tough, acrobatic catches and despite his listed height/weight is actually a pretty good sized receiver. Gets upfield in a hurry after the catch. Landry is a pretty strong perimeter blocker who works out of the slot quite a bit.
He looks like he plays bigger than he actually is, and I think he has some room to grow in his frame and be even more physical. LSU likes to run Landry on a lot of quick routes so he can utilize his quickness after the catch. He finishes his runs and doesn’t shy away from contact. Landry is an intriguing talent that could be a really nice find for a team on day three–if he lasts that long. He is only a junior this season, so he has a ton of room to grow.