LSU Tigers Top Prospects for 2012 and Beyond


Of the teams included in my pre-season top five, the LSU Tigers are the only team I have yet to do full player reports on. This is an extremely talented roster from top to bottom, even though they are losing top notch players like Patrick Peterson, Kelvin Sheppard, Drake Nevis, and Stevan Ridley. Les Miles has put together a very solid program, one that could be one of the most exciting to watch in 2011, or it could get ugly. A lot will depend on the development of Jordan Jefferson, one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country.

Jefferson leads a young and talented Tigers team for what could be an SEC Champion caliber season. There is a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and it all starts in the secondary…

37 Karnell Hatcher (Senior), S, 6’2″ 212

I look at a guy like Hatcher, and he just screams NFL starter. The size, the physicality, and the toughness indicate to me that this is a guy who can be a good safety in the NFL, and he has proven in three years at LSU that he is more than capable of making an impact in various areas. He has yet to record an interception as a Tiger, which is disappointing since he was an ESPN150 recruit back in 2008. As a senior, Hatcher is probably the leader of the LSU defense both on the field and off. He is a big, in the box safety who will smack you in the mouth and simply make plays for your defense. He had 63 tackles last year along with a forced fumble and two passes broken up, and he has been a key contributor on special teams early in his career. In his second full year as a starter, expect Hatcher to make an impact in the LSU secondary, and cement himself as a top 10 safety in next year’s draft.

15 Brandon Taylor (Senior), S/CB, 6’0″ 195

Taylor is Karnell Hatcher’s partner in crime on the back end of the defense, and is also one of LSU’s top returning defenders for 2011. Taylor would probably be considered the free safety in this defense, and has shown a nose for the ball over the last couple of years. He has 85 tackles, two interceptions, 10 passes broken up, and a fumble recovery over the last couple of years. Without Patrick Peterson in the secondary, teams are not going to be afraid to throw on the Tigers, but Taylor and Hatcher will make life tough on opposing teams.

53 T-Bob Hebert (Senior), C/G, 6’3″ 285

Along with the coolest name in the draft, Hebert is one of the more versatile players on the LSU offensive line. Currently, he is the starting right guard but also backs up center P.J. Lonergan. He’s started 18 of 30 career games and is one of LSU’s most consistent linemen in terms of knockdowns and total plays overall. He has some later round upside coming from a big college program and starting so many games.

9 Jordan Jefferson (Senior), QB, 6’5″ 224

Jefferson is a guy who is known for his ability to make plays on the ground, and right now he is a “tweener” to me. He will get drafted because of his size and athletic ability, but will it be at quarterback? He has not made any progress in terms of his accuracy, and over the last two years has thrown just 24 touchdown passes compared to 17 interceptions, including only seven touchdown throws last year. Where Jefferson makes his mark is as a runner, where he had seven rushing touchdowns last year. According to LSU’s official athletic site, this will be the first time under offensive coordinator Gary Crowton that a starting quarterback has returned the next year. There is no doubting that Jefferson is capable of making every NFL throw, but is he capable of doing it on a consistent basis, and will he be willing to try out different positions at the next level? His senior season will show us a lot about where he is headed, but for now, he is an exciting player who is going to help LSU win football games.

19 Deangelo Peterson (Senior), TE, 6’4″ 245

Peterson is a guy who plays more of a fullback role for the Tigers, not really catching a lot of passes from the tight end position. He had 198 yards on 16 receptions last season, going without a touchdown though he does have two career scores to his name. Obviously playing for LSU, he has to be able to block somebody if the offense is going to have success, so that is something he is pretty good at. At this point, he is a fringe draftable player who will be on NFL radars because of the college he comes from and his size. Highly recruited WR out of high school who has a lot of potential as a pass receiver, but probably didn’t choose the correct school to catch passes at. Not to say that LSU is a poor passing school, but it’s certainly not what they are known for.

10 Russell Shepard (Junior), WR, 6’1″ 188

Again, with any LSU wide receiver, the speed and talent is definitely there, but do they have someone to get them the ball. Shepard is a top flight wide receiver prospect who would probably be hot on NFL radars had he gone to Boise State or something like that, but because he plays in such a run-oriented offense, it’s hard for him to get noticed. Last year, he had 33 receptions for 254 yards and just one touchdown reception. He still will have two more years to step up his game, but he is definitely one of the top juniors LSU features offensively, and he is a name to watch going forward.

17 Morris Claiborne (Junior), CB, 6’0″ 177

Morris Claiborne burst on to the scene as a sophomore in 2010 when he led the Tigers with five interceptions and made second team All-SEC. The big test for Claiborne now will be filling the shoes of Patrick Peterson, a player regarded as one of the best defensive prospects to ever come along. Coming out of high school, Claiborne was an “athlete” playing quarterback, receiver, and defensive back in high school, and clearly LSU made the right choice putting him on defense where he broke out as a sophomore. Became a full time starter in 2010 and will be the number one corner, and because of his abilities as a receiver and quarterback knows what to do with the ball in his hands. Could emerge as one of the top cornerback prospects for the class of 2013, and is a candidate to leave early after this season.

2 Rueben Randle (Junior), WR, 6’4″ 207

Randle was a big name recruit back in 2008 and one of the most coveted players in his class. High School All-American who has a chance to be one of the best receiver prospects in the next couple of draft classes. He has the height/weight/speed that every NFL team looks for. Excellent length and ability after the catch. Really going to need to emerge in his junior season after having a solid sophomore campaign with 33 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns. Had his best game of the season against Alabama with three catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. No stranger to the big play, but will need Jordan Jefferson to actually get him the ball on a regular basis to make the kind of impact we know he is capable of. Probably the best overall prospect on LSU’s roster right now, and a guy who could potentially be a first round pick in either of the next two drafts.

LSU is a supremely talented college football team that prides itself on great defense and solid offense, but this year they have firepower on both sides of the ball, and should be extremely fun to watch.