UPDATE: Friday, 5 p.m. — Tack K’Lavon Chaisson and Thad Moss into the declaration group as well. Both announced earlier today:
Chaisson is a darling with scouts for his athleticism and versatility, even if he didn’t quite have the sack numbers to match. He’ll likely still be a first- or second-round pick, even if could’ve maybe shot farther up with another big-number season. Get ready for tons of “why did he only have 6.5 sacks” anonymous scout takes over the next few months.
Moss just completed the greatest single season any LSU tight end has ever had, catching 47 passes for 570 yards, both school records. He doesn’t quite have ideal height, but he’s an excellent athlete and a tough blocker as well.
Today is the NFL deadline, so as of press time the final counter looks like:
Staying: JaCoby Stevens, Kary Vincent, Tyler Shelvin, Glen Logan, Neil Farrell, Austin Deculus
Headed to the NFL: Grant Delpit, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen, Lloyd Cushenberry, Saahdiq Charles, K’Lavon Chaisson and Thad Moss
That’s a lot of attrition, but given that LSU will already be replacing a Heisman Trophy-winner that ran the greatest offense in the history of college football, it’s just the way it goes after a championship season (remember that?).
UPDATE: Thursday, 5:45 p.m. — Nickelback Kary Vincent has announced that he will return to LSU for his senior season:
Vincent had 47 tackles and four interceptions on the season, including one in the Peach Bowl College Football Playoff semi-final. Vincent’s return should help solidify the 2020 secondary, as he can play either safety or cornerback after working in a combination role at nickel. Question now is will that role change under a new defensive coordinator.
Seven Tigers announced plans to forego their final seasons at LSU and enter the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday. Most of the decisions were largely expected, from stars like Grant Delpit, Justin Jefferson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. All three are coming off fantastic seasons — or a career, in Delpit’s case — and would be hard-pressed to raise their stock any more with another year.
In addition, junior linebackers Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen announced their plans to leave as well, along with center Lloyd Cushenberry and left tackle Saahdiq Charles.
Man makes his plans, God guides his steps pic.twitter.com/edxSmzr0wq— JP6 (@jacobphillips_1) January 15, 2020
Charles announced his decision via TigerDetails.com.
These four moves were somewhat expected. Charles missed six games this season with an NCAA suspension, and while another strong year would have no doubt helped his value, he would have also been at risk to miss more time. Cushenberry had little left to prove after an all-conference year that saw him earn the No. 18 and be named a team captain.
Phillips and Queen are the major losses, as the Tigers’ starting inside linebackers. Phillips led the Tigers with 113 tackles on the season, while Queen finished with 85 on the year and 16 (four for loss) in the College Football Playoff.
There was, however some good news with a very high-profile return: safety JaCoby Stevens.
Stevens blossomed into one of the country’s best all-around players with 93 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions. The former five-star prospect would likely be a fairly high pick this year, but with another strong season of tape could really skyrocket up boards into the first round.
Additionally, nose tackle Tyler Shelvin indicated that he’d be staying via Twitter:
Chill chill ♂️ Im staying !!— Bruhman.72 (@Bruhman72) January 16, 2020
As did defensive ends Glen Logan and Neil Farrell.
Those three would set the Tigers up to have one of the better, and more experienced, defensive lines in the country next season.
That leaves outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson, nickel corner Kary Vincent, offensive lineman Austin Deculus and tight end Thaddeus Moss as the final four players with status up in the air. I would expect Chaisson to leave; he may not have had the gaudy sack numbers that many expected, but he proved to be a very well-rounded edge player that could blossom in the pros. He has scouts’ attention and will almost certainly work out well.
Moss seems likely to strike while the iron is hot after breaking program records for catches and yards as a tight end. Vincent had an up-and-down 2019, but closed things out well, and had a very strong 2018 in Dave Aranda’s hybrid nickel corner/safety role. Deculus had a strong 2019, but would likely benefit from another year of demonstrated improvement.