We’ve established which former Tigers have the best chance to go off the board in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, and hopefully Derrius Guice will have his name called early tonight, but what about round three and below?
There are another 16 outgoing seniors or juniors that are draft-eligible in this weekend’s selection meeting. Obviously, most of those players are more likely to wind up as undrafted free agents, or in try-out camps in a few weeks, but there could be another five to seven names that may go off the board before all seven rounds finish up on Saturday.
And if you ask me, there may be more value in those lower-rated LSU prospects. A number of guys that have shown versatility, and a willingness to contribute in multiple roles — traits that NFL teams will always value.
Three guys that immediately stand out on that front are receiver Russell Gage and defensive linemen Christian LaCouture and Greg Gilmore. He toiled in obscurity for some time here, but Gage is definitely an NFL-level athlete in terms of his short-area agility and explosiveness — and then he turned in a strong 4.42 forty at LSU’s pro day. Gage was a fantastic special teams player, and that will almost definitely help him make a roster. If he’s not drafted, he’ll almost certainly be a priority free agent. From there, it’s not hard to imagine him working to develop into a solid slot receiver. Gilmore and LaCouture showed they ability to be productive in a number of roles as defensive linemen; 4i/5-technique ends, 3-tech tackles, and Gimore was even a pretty solid nose. That’s probably not his best position, but he and LaCouture are big, strong, active linemen. Not the elite athletic prospects that fly off the board, but guys that could provide solid depth and work their way into a rotation.
Another player that falls into this group is running back Darrel Williams. He’s a 224-pounder who can run between the tackles, catch and block. Not a starter, but a special teamer that can help on offense in small doses and build from there.
Center Will Clapp will be an interesting case. On talent alone he’s a mid-round pick. A strong interior lineman that has played both guard and center very well. He knows how to use his technique to work with more athletic defenders, and his strength to bully those that he can. He’s a pro in every sense of the word, but he’s also coming off major shoulder surgery between the 2016 and 2017 season. With another year of wear and tear, he might not have been considered a draftable player. So it will be interesting to see what his medical flags cost him this year around.
didn’t get a combine invite, which seems hard to believe after his huge freshman year. **Ed. Note: Mistake, he was invited to the combine. But off-field issues dinged him as a sophomore and junior. As a prospect, he struggle with what I like to call Alex Molden Disease (Saints fans will get it) — he struggles to get his head around in coverage when the ball is in the air. He has the size, long arms and strength that teams love in a cornerback, but he’s a little stiff in the hips. He could maybe transition to safety, or fit better in a Cover-Two or Cover-Three-based zone scheme where he can jam receivers at the line but have help inside, and play with his eyes on the ball.
Toby Weathersby is a big, strong lineman that probably fits better as a guard. He’s most of a waste-bender that struggles to keep pace with speed rushers. But he has a nice wingspan that can help him control defensive tackles.
Linebacker Corey Thompson is almost definitely a free agent, but don’t be surprised if he sticks somewhere too. Another versatile guy that has played safety and linebacker and shown comfort playing in space, and with some natural pass-rush tools, in terms of his ability to turn his hips and drop his shoulders to get under blocks. He’s probably a scheme-specific player, maybe a Sam linebacker on a Cover-Two team, but I wouldn’t count him out.