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Ed Alexander Declares for the NFL Draft

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Junior nose tackle will sit out the Fiesta Bowl.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that wasn’t terribly surprising, Ed Orgeron announced today that junior nose tackle Ed Alexander will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

And like fellow early entrant Greedy Williams, Alexander will skip LSU’s Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl match-up with Central Florida.

Many around the program had expected that Alexander would be the next underclassmen to declare after Williams and Devin White (who has not announced any decision as of today). He’s battled major injuries for most of his career, and even with another season of improved production, the additional mileage would likely only drive his stock further down (much like Will Clapp last year).

Alexander finished with 22 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack in 2018 through six starts. He’s missed significant time for injuries, discipline issues and inconsistency over the last three seasons, after arriving as a four-star prospect in the 2015 class.

Of the remaining underclassmen aside from Williams and White, who both project as very high picks, most believed Alexander would be the most likely to leave. His value isn’t likely very high now with all of his issues (and unlike other higher-profile players, skipping the bowl game isn’t going to be well-received), but again, another year of wear-and-tear (Alexander has had surgery on both knees) would only hurt at this point. That said, Orgeron and LSU will have to find a way to hold on to other underclassmen like Breiden Fehoko, Rashard Lawrence, Michael Divinity and Kristian Fulton after years of the roster being gutted by the draft.

It’s not a huge loss for 2019; freshman Tyler Shelvin really emerged at the nose spot down the stretch this season, and LSU will also return redshirt freshman Dominic Livingston and add four-star recruit Siaki Ika. But with Alexander skipping the Fiesta Bowl, the Tiger defense will be down four starters (Alexander and Williams, plus the injured Fulton and Fehoko), plus a fifth player missing a half in Jacob Phillips, who was ejected from the season finale for targeting. That’s not ideal against a UCF offense that averaged 44 points per game this season.