LSU star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has announced his intentions to return to Baton Rouge for another season. Look for Boutte to revive his NFL Draft stock with a strong 2023 campaign for the Tigers.
Entering the 2022 college football season, Kayshon Boutte was a mainstay atop NFL Draft rankings everywhere. Unfortunately, the third-year wideout has been a non-factor, relative to expectations. To Boutte’s credit, he still has produced at a respectable rate.
In the past seven LSU contests, the superstar pass catcher recorded at least four receptions and went over 40 yards in six of those, including two 100-yard outbursts. Against Florida and Georgia, Boutte turned back the clock and reminded everyone why he is one of the best in the country at wide receiver.
Talent is not the concern for me with Boutte’s NFL Draft projection. Anyone with eyes can see the explosiveness and game-changing ability that he brings to the table, as well as a solid frame to hold up throughout a 17-game season. The issues with his evaluation come in other areas.
Consistency on a snap-to-snap basis can be waning at times with Kayshon Boutte. Due to his elite athleticism and natural ability to separate, he can still win downfield, even if his technique requires improvement. The ability to “out-talent” folks will not always translate to the NFL, with much better — and savvier — defenders.
New head coach Brian Kelly has opted to play Boutte primarily in the slot in 2022. Playing on the inside gives Boutte more of a cushion off the snap, allowing him to use that trademark burst to create even more separation. While this benefitted the Tigers this season, it could be argued that Boutte’s NFL Draft stock took a hit because of it.
Kayshon Boutte failed to string together top-tier performances as a junior. Combine that fact with a majority of his tape coming from the slot, and you get a headache of an evaluation for NFL Draft scouts. The good news for everyone involved is that Boutte announced Monday that he was returning for a senior season in Baton Rouge.
The surprise decision will make LSU a legitimate College Football Playoff contender in 2023. After an appearance in the SEC Championship Game in year one of the Brian Kelly Era, the hype surrounding the Tigers is as high as it has been since Joe Burrow roamed the campus.
For Boutte, he will get the chance to build back up the WR1 hype. If he had declared for the 2022 NFL Draft, it would have been an uphill climb to surpass Quentin Johnston. Others like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Zay Flowers, Josh Downs, and Jalin Hyatt make for a crowded group of pass catchers.
The LSU Tigers are quickly becoming WRU in the NFL. Justin Jefferson is arguably the best in the league at the position, and Ja’Marr Chase is not far behind in those discussions. Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most talented wide receivers to ever grace the gridiron. Kayshon Boutte aims to be the next name added to the list.
I tend to give Boutte the benefit of doubt when it comes to his sluggish play in 2022. The new system took some time to work out the kinks, and Jayden Daniels did not have much time to develop a rapport with his star wideout. It is no guarantee that Boutte sees passes from Daniels next year, so it is important for his NFL Draft stock to form chemistry with whoever lines up behind center.
The college football world is more talented with Kayshon Boutte in it. Here’s to hoping a resurgence is on the horizon. If Boutte can put together a consistent season, and log some snaps on the outside, look for the uber-talented pass catcher to go somewhere inside the top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft.