Five years ago the Minnesota Vikings took former Tiger defensive end Danielle Hunter with the 88th selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Hunter entered the draft as one of the most polarizing prospects. He was certainly one of the most impressive looking athletes in that year’s class, but as LSU fans may remember, he didn’t have the flashy pass rushing numbers you’d expect with a player possessing those measurables.
Five years later Hunter and the Viking coaching staff have unlocked the beast within and Hunter’s racked up 54.5 sacks, made two Pro Bowls and was a second-team All-Pro in 2018.
K’Lavon Chaisson may not have put up eye popping numbers at LSU, but, like Hunter, there’s potential oozing out of him and if coached properly, Chaisson could be the outside linebacker version of Hunter.
Arm Length: 32 1/4”
Hand Size: 9 7/8”
2019: 60 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Some guys look like football players, other guys look like DUDES. K’Lavon looks like a DUDE. Chaisson not only has the arm length to be a great pass rusher, but he’s also super athletic and fluid enough that will allow him to dip, bend and change direction to get around tackles at the next level. Chaisson also posses a unique blend of burst off the line and can channel that speed into a devastating bull rush.
Chaisson mentioned at the combine that he’s fluent in three different languages: rushing the passer, defending the run and dropping into coverage. And he is, aside from Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons there’s not another linebacker that can get after the quarterback, set the edge and cover the flat as well as Chaisson. Chaisson has an excellent motor, has a high football IQ and possesses excellent character: in short, he has all the traits you’d want in a No. 18 at LSU.
Chaisson does have an injury history however. He only played in the 2018 season opener before tearing his ACL, and he missed a pair of games in 2019 with an ankle injury. Some around the league also worry that he’s too raw; there’s concerns he doesn’t play the run well enough or posses the proper pass rushing skill set you’d want out of a first round pick.
NFL.com gives him a boom or bust grade. I get the boom part, if his skills and athleticism can be properly harnessed—like Danielle Hunter—a team might have a truly game changing outside linebacker. But I don’t see Chaisson being a bust, at least not in the sense that he’ll flame out. Chaisson’s effort and intangibles are so good that even if he doesn’t rack up 10-15 sacks a year, he’ll at least be a guy that you can keep on the field for every down and gives his all each and every snap. If that’s a bust then sign me up.
Put it this way, the best three games the LSU defense played, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson, coincided with Chaisson’s three best games. And when Chaisson went down with his ACL injury in 2018, LSU simply could not replace him. He’s a difference maker, plain and simple. Once Chaisson puts all the pieces together, and I’m confident he will, an NFL team is going to have its pass rushing cornerstone.