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Tigers Wrap Bowl Prep in Baton Rouge; Juniors Pondering NFL Draft

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Piecing through some media reports before the Holidays crank up.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

LSU closed its week of bowl prep in Baton Rouge with some media availability this week for players and Ed Orgeron. The players and coaches will have the Christmas weekend off, practice Monday and Tuesday and then leave for Orlando to practice on-site for the Citrus Bowl matchup with Louisville.

Per Orgeron in yesterday’s Advocate report, the gameplan is largely installed, with next week’s practices for the final polish. Bowl practices under Les Miles were, at times, described as a miserable experience that tended to sap a lot of the enthusiasm for the trip — I would imagine that will be a welcome change under Coach O.

The other topic of the week, of course, centered on juniors/other third-year players and the 2017 NFL Draft. Per Orgeron, the staff — including new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who is finishing his duties with Pittsburgh for the Pinstripe Bowl — are working to recruit the underclassmen to stay. Canada even flew in for some talks, particularly with receivers D.J. Chark and Malachi Dupre.

“He flew in last night, flew him in,” Orgeron said of Canada, who will remain with Pittsburgh through its bowl game on Wednesday. “We had meetings with a couple of juniors personally. He’s been on the phone with some juniors’ parents. Last night, he was in town. We had a meeting with several juniors.”

Chark is rumored to be staying, while Dupre is more up in the air. Although he did shoot down a twitter report that indicated he was leaving earlier in the week. Dupre has long been rumored to be considered a high-round pick but I suspect a lot of that is due to draft sites and twitter scouts translating his recruiting accolades through to an evaluation. He’ll have a lot to prove once NFL teams start taking a longer look at his film. A big senior year would definitely help.

Chark broke out this season, and has the size/speed combo that NFL teams love, but again, would definitely benefit from another year of polish. Plus, Canada’s offense has also shown that its willing to work to get play-makers the ball in multiple ways.

Jamal Adams is having some fun teasing a 2017 Heisman campaign, but he projects as a likely top-20 pick and it would be an absolute stunner if he did not depart for the NFL.

Offensive lineman Will Clapp is draft-eligible, but has said he’ll be returning. He needs shoulder surgery, so between that and the chance to put another strong year on tape he can only improve his stock. The underclassmen on the other side of the ball will have the more interesting decisions: Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron both have unquestioned upside as far as the pros are concerned, but could also return and play larger roles in 2017, and that’s definitely what Orgeron will sell them on; Davon Godchaux, however, seems more likely to leave.

Godchaux is on the record as saying he’ll wait until after the bowl game to make any decision, but with a sick mother he’s likely feeling a lot of pressure to go grab a paycheck, which is understandable. He also may not have as much to gain from a return. Godchaux definitely has the size and athleticism to play at the next level, and strikes me as a second-to-third-round pick, but I’m not sure he can gain much on that status with another year, barring a double-digit sack explosion. And that seems unlikely in LSU’s defense, which will still ask Godchaux to play two gaps and occupy blockers a great deal.

Should he stay, however, LSU will return one of the deepest lines in the conference with Gilmore, Herron, Ed Alexander, Rashard Lawrence, Glen Logan, Deondre Clark, Sci Martin, Arden Key and another very talented freshmen class coming in.