Wednesday is a big day for nine former Tigers as they take a monumental step toward realizing their dreams of playing in the NFL.
It’s Pro Day at the football facility and due to the pandemic, it’ll double as a pseudo-NFL combine. While the 2021 draft class may not be as deep as LSU’s record-setting 2020 class, the Tigers will still have nine players working out for all 32 NFL teams. As a reminder the nine players are Tory Carter, Ja’Marr Chase, Jabril Cox, Terrace Marshall Jr., Racey McMath, Tyler Shelvin, Jacoby Stevens, Kary Vincent, and Zach Von Rosenberg.
For those interested in watching, both SEC Network and NFL Network will be carrying the event and former Tiger/current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark will be onsite interviewing players and coaches.
Coverage begins at 10:00 but the day’s events actually begins at 8:00 with the player measurements and typical combine events like the broad jump and bench press. Around 9:30 will be drills like the ever-important 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, and 60-yard shuttle.
The last portion will be position specific workouts, slated to begin at around 10:45; interviews will be held via Zoom running from 11:15 to 1:30.
So we know when our former Tigers get to show their stuff for the scouts. But what should we be looking for?
Allow Myself to Re-introduce Myself
Ja’Marr Chase headlines LSU’s 2021 draft class and will almost certainly be the first Tiger taken. Chase of course opted out of playing this past season but his 2019 tape was so strong that it hasn’t affected his stock much, if at all.
If Chase isn’t the clearcut No. 1 wide receiver, he’s at least 1B. Maybe Devonta Smith’s stellar Heisman season led to him passing Chase on the big board, but Chase will still be at the very least a top-10 pick. Chase doesn’t need to go out and dominate Wednesday because he’s already dominant. All Ja’Marr needs to do is remind everyone he’s still that dude.
Terrace Marshall Jr.: First Round Draft Pick
Maybe no player benefited more from playing last season than Terrace Marshall. Sure it was an abridged season, but Marshall was damn near unstoppable in seven games catching 48 passes for 731 yards and 10 scores. And he did most of that with a pair of true freshmen throwing him the ball and the entire secondary keyed in on him.
Marshall has all the physical tools to be a redzone nightmare for defenses with his 6’3”, 200 pound frame. If Marshall has a good 40 time, that may seal the deal and make him a first round pick. Marshall is looking like he could go in the back end of the first round and there’s plenty of teams in that 20-32 range that could use help at receiver like the Titans, Ravens, Saints (please God let it be) and Packers. In 2019 Marshall was thought of as LSU’s “other” receiver behind Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase. In 2020 he proved he’s just as good as those two and if he is indeed a first round pick he’ll have earned it.
Hey, Hey What Can I Do
A draft selection doesn’t seem as certain for guys like Racey McMath and Tory Carter, but Wednesday will be their chance to show they’re worth of one.
Big things were expected of Racey McMath in 2020 and it just never materialized. McMath only caught 14 passes last season and missed LSU’s final four games due to a hamstring injury. But he certainly has the size you’d want in a professional receiver, listed on LSU’s website at 6’3” and 224 pounds and the coaching staff raves about his ability as a special teams player. That’s what got Russell Gage drafted and it’s helped Derrick Dillon hang around on the New York Giants roster. Will McMath get drafted like Gage or go undrafted and hope to latch on somewhere as a free agent like Dillon? His showing Wednesday will go a long way toward determining that.
Will a team take a chance on Tory Carter? Fullbacks are a dying breed and Carter’s not even listed as the top at his own position so I’d imagine he won’t hear his name called. But Carter has some experience playing special teams and tight end and maybe that versatility boosts his stock and a team takes a flier on him in the seventh round.
Young Shelvin, Thursdays on CBS
If Terrace Marshall gained the most by playing, Tyler Shelvin probably lost just as much by not playing. Mel Kiper had Shelvin as the No. 25 overall prospect last May. Now you can’t find him in the first round of any mock draft.
Could he work his way back into the first round? Possibly, but Shelvin has never been much of a pass rusher. Sure he can eat up blocks better than any defensive linemen in the class, but he has to show he can be more than a run stuffer if a team will take him that early.
The biggest question surrounding Shelvin will be what kind of shape he’s in, and if this picture is any indication it looks like Shelvin did a damn fine job working on his body after leaving LSU.
The Disruptor of the Line— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) March 30, 2021
7️⃣2️⃣ | NFLSU pic.twitter.com/cOoN4zwU5u
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Bison
There’s an awful lot of buzz surrounding Jabril Cox and for good reason. He has the skillset to cover deep down the field like a safety, and can get sideline to sideline like Tampa Bay’s devastating linebacker duo of Devin White and Lavonte David. Had Cox entered last year’s draft he probably would have been a top-100 pick. But he bet on himself, took a step up in competition and the gamble paid off. Cox is right on the cusp of being a first round pick, and a good showing Wednesday would go a long way toward getting him there.
For the first time in quite a while LSU doesn’t have an obvious round one pick in the secondary. Sure, Grant Delpit and Kristian Fulton both went in the second round last year and Greedy Williams also went in the second in the 2019 draft but you could find all three in the first round in various mock drafts.
The same isn’t being said about Jacoby Stevens and Kary Vincent. One of the casualties of Bo Pelini’s failed second stint in Baton Rouge was Stevens’s draft stock and he really ought to consider suing Pelini for lost wages.
Stevens headed into the 2020 college football season as a potential first round pick but now it’s looking like he could fall all the way down to the third day of the draft. Stevens has never been the best cover guy and one good showing tomorrow won’t undo four years worth of game tape. But he’s devastating playing downhill and could be a linebacker/safety hybrid that NFL teams are really starting to covet. He’s also a terrific human being and will make any locker room better.
Vincent, on the other hand, opted out of playing last season and his draft stock didn’t really change good or bad. He is who he is, a shorter corner with world class speed. He’s built along the same lines as Donte Jackson, who wound up being taken toward the end of the second round, 55th overall to be exact. Going 55th is probably a little too high for Vincent, but he—like Jacoby Stevens—could wind up going in the third round.
Punters Are People Too
Look we all love Zach Von Rosenberg but the reality is punters typically aren’t drafted, especially 30-year-old punters. Sure long snappers don’t normally hear their name called either and LSU’s own Blake Ferguson bucked the trend last year. Von Rosenberg will interview well and perhaps that helps his stock, but the nature of his position means he’ll probably have to earn a spot as an undrafted free agent.