The defensive side of the ball features a pair of seniors that played a lot of football here. One has been one of the hotter prospects of the draft media season, after putting up some flashy workout numbers. But the other player might be one of the surprises of this week's selection meeting.
Position: defensive back
Weight: 193 pounds
Arm length: 31.125 inches
Hand size: 9.125 inches
40 time: 4.51 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps
20-yard shuttle time: 4.0 seconds
60-yard shuttle time: 11.53 seconds
3-cone drill time: 6.86 seconds
Broad jump: 123 inches
Vertical jump: 37 inches
2016 stats (7 games): 30 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 3 passes broken up
Mills was a four-year starter for LSU that has played every position in the secondary -- corner, safety and nickel...smart, heady player who made the checks and secondary calls for the team at a young age...his final year, the secondary struggled with assignments without him, something that ended noticeably when he returned...as a prospect, he can fit a number of roles, but doesn't seem to have one that is an immediate fit...has loose hips, and can turn and move quickly in man coverage, but lacks the top-end speed to run...as corner, he might fit best in a zone-heavy scheme where he can play down-hill...versatility is a real plus, and should allow him to jump into sub-packages right away...lacks the ideal frame to hold up as a box safety, but has the instincts and feel for coverage that could fit well in the deep middle.
Mills hasn't gotten the publicity of Deion Jones through this draft process, but his versatility may see him go off the board in the second or third round, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he's the first Tiger selected. Mills can fit a lot of defenses in a number of roles, and that versatility could push him higher on a number of draft boards. He does have the character flag of the alleged domestic involving a woman in the summer of 2014, but the case was dropped and appears to be an outlier. I'd be surprised if it's a significant factor for most teams.
Deion "Debo" Jones
Position: outside linebacker
Weight: 221 pounds
Arm length: 32.375 inches
Hand size: 9.25 inches
40 time: 4.40 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps
20-yard shuttle time: 4.32 seconds
60-yard shuttle time: 11.55 seconds
3-cone drill time: 7.16 seconds
Broad jump: 120 inches
Vertical jump: 33 inches
2016 stats: 100 tackles, 13.5 tackle for loss (5 sacks), 2 interceptions, 3 passes broken up and a forced fumble
A special teams/rotational player that broke out as a full-time starter his senior year, leading the Tigers in tackles and tackles for loss...a fast, explosive player that excels at attacking down-hill and accelerates quickly...struggled with gap discipline and tackling consistency as an underclassmen, but things seemed to slow down as a senior...became better at playing his responsibilities first while doing less free-lancing...very fast from point A to point B, but struggles getting through traffic and doesn't really have the bulk to fight off larger blockers...frame is a bit tight, so adding more bulk is unlikely...lacks great instincts in coverage down the field, and is much more comfortable with things developing in front of him...willing special teams player...size and skillset make him a bit of a scheme fit at the next level.
Jones has gotten a ton of pub through this process for putting up the flashy workout numbers, and while he did break out as a senior, it took him a while to get over some bad habits, and scouts will notice a lot of the little things that he struggled with as a player. Plus, ultimately his lack of size lends itself to only a few schemes, particularly the Tampa-2, and as much as Jones has been talked up in the last few months, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he drops a bit lower than many are projecting, to the fourth or fifth round. Still, his speed and special teams experience will make him attractive, the question is whether that will overcome his lack of size.
Louis has emerged as one of the more intriguing prospects for LSU in this draft, largely because there's been talk of him completely changing positions from linebacker to fullback. I don't expect him to hear his name called this weekend, but I do expect him to sign a UFA deal quickly. It seems bizarre, but Louis was a hell of a high school running back, and that fits his build at 5-10, 225 pounds much more so than linebacker. As it is, he rarely had much of a chance to shine here, as the SAM linebacker almost always came off the field in sub-packages and LSU, like most teams, plays a ton of nickel (and there have been even fewer snaps to go around on offense with the backs here in recent years). But, provided he can learn an offense, the transition wouldn't be all that difficult for Louis if he has maintained any of his instincts as a runner. He'd likely have to spend time on a practice squad and continue to develop his body and skills, but it will be curious to see what kind of opportunity Louis gets.
Thomas is a short, stocky defensive tackle that played a lot of football here but never really distinguished himself. I'd be surprised if he's drafted, but he'll have a chance to catch on somewhere. What he does with it from there is up to him.
He hasn't been a Tiger for about a year now, but Robinson has thrown his hat into the draft and was able to work out for teams at LSU's practice facility a few months back. It's not all that surprising that he's done well in his workouts, and the limited tape that he does have will impress teams. Robinson is a tall, long-armed corner that was just too tough in press coverage to keep off the field at LSU, even with limited practice time as a late qualifier out of high school. He plays with an attitude, but sadly his work ethic didn't extend to the classroom or staying out of trouble. Still, there's enough talent there for somebody to take a flyer in the sixth or seventh round, especially with more teams trying to copy the Seattle Seahawks' cover-three style of defense.