Two college football teams stand out above all others in terms of quantity and quality of players selected in the NFL Draft.
Alabama, and LSU.
The Tigers are coming off one of the greatest seasons in college football history, and the number of draft-eligible players would sure seem to indicate that. Quarterback Joe Burrow is considered a lock for No. 1 overall after one of the best statistical seasons of all time, but he surely won’t be the last Tiger selected in the draft.
MORE: Full seven-round NFL mock draft
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer projects an absurd 16 (!) LSU players will be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, shattering the mark Alabama set in 2018 with 12. That includes five projected first-round picks: two on offense, and three on defense.
Here are the Tigers players Iyer projects will be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, and where:
NFL mock draft 2020: LSU’s projected picks
Joe Burrow, QB
Projected: Round 1, Pick No. 1 (Bengals)
Burrow’s is one of the greatest turnaround stories in college football: After riding the pines at Ohio State for three seasons, he transferred to LSU where in 2018 he had an average season while displaying some of the skills/leadership qualities that would lead to a phenomenal 2019 campaign.
His is an incredible football intelligence, but he’s also an exceptionally accurate passer — in the pocket and on the run — who can lead his receivers along their routes. He also has great athleticism, routinely making drive-extending plays with his legs that demoralized defenses. The central Ohio native will almost assuredly land with Cincinnati, which is in desperate need of a franchise quarterback and just short of three hours away from his hometown of Athens, Ohio.
MORE: How the Bengals can avoid ruining Joe Burrow
Kristian Fulton, CB
Projected: Round 1, Pick No.19 (Raiders)
Fulton — projected as the third corner taken in Iyer’s mock draft — is a big corner with good eyes and ability to make plays on the ball. He developed into one of LSU’s top defensive backs in 2019 alongside safety Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr. He’d be a good selection to place opposite Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen, especially now that Las Vegas added former first-round selection Eli Apple to its ranks.
Justin Jefferson, WR
Projected: Round 1, Pick No. 21 (Eagles)
Jefferson was a massive reason for LSU’s sustained success in the passing game last season, hauling in a team-leading 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns in a breakout season. He’s a quick receiver with good route-running skills and the ability to make contested catches; he could make an immediate impact as a slot receiver for the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz.
K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE/LB
Projected: Round 1, Pick No. 23 (Patriots)
Another LSU player whose stock shot up during the 2019 campaign, Chaisson figures to contribute as a pass-rusher with a diverse skill set that makes him able to rush the quarterback and make plays in the backfield. Iyer projects him to go No. 23 overall to the Patriots, who have a need at the position after losing several pieces to free agency. Chaisson could do well under Bill Belichick’s tutelage, as well.
Patrick Queen, LB
Projected: Round 1, Pick No. 24 (Saints)
Queen is a versatile backer who finished among the top three defenders in tackles (85) and tackles for loss (12) for LSU in 2019. A tad undersized at 6-0, 229 pounds, he regardless plays with speed, explosiveness, confidence and great body control. His diversity as a defender should serve him well at the next level.
Grant Delpit, S
Projected: Round 2, Pick No. 43 (Bears)
Delpit fell off a little in his junior season from a 2018 campaign that won him the Jim Thorpe Award. Regardless, the two-time consensus All-American is a big, fast and physical tackler who plays tough against tight ends and bigger receivers while showing no hesitation to move up in run support. He’ll be an excellent foil to Bears ballhawk Eddie Jackson.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
Projected: Round 2, Pick No. 47 (Falcons)
Edwards-Helaire is a bowling ball at 5-7, 207 pounds, but his true value lies in his versatility and pass-catching ability. He rushed 215 times for 1,414 yards while hauling in 55 receptions (good for third on the team) for 453 receiving yards in 2019, making him an excellent replacement for Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman for Atlanta. He’ll be an excellent change-of-pace back for Todd Gurley, as well.
Lloyd Cushenberry, G/C
Projected: Round 3, Pick No. 66 (Redskins)
Cushenberry is a long-armed lineman with good pop and core strength, which should serve him well on the interior of the line. He’s hard to bull-rush and quick enough on pass sets as well.
MORE: Fulton wants to continue LSU tradition by being ‘best corner’ in 2020 draft
Rashard Lawrence, DT
Projected: Round 3, Pick No. 106 (Ravens)
Lawrence is a high-motor, high-effort player who figures to rotate in the middle of the defensive attack. He projects to help more against the run than he would against the pass.
Saahdiq Charles, OT
Projected: Round 4, Pick No. 127 (Eagles)
Charles doesn’t have quite elite tackle height at 6-4, but has bend, ability and recovery. He’ll need to work on some technical issues at the next level.
Damien Lewis, G
Projected: Round 4, Pick No. 133 (Seahawks)
Lewis is more of an asset as a run-blocker than pass-protector, but is good enough in that vein to overcome his shorter stature (6-2).
Thaddeus Moss, TE
Projected: Round 4, Pick No. 136 (Packers)
The son of Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, Thaddeus Moss made some big plays in LSU’s championship season, including more than a few catches along the sideline. That said, his greatest strength at the next level will be his run-blocking skills, where he excels.
Jacob Phillips, LB
Projected: Round 5, Pick No. 151 (Chargers)
Phillips figures to be a consistent, assignment-oriented player who won’t make too many mistakes at the next level. He doesn’t have the size, speed or explosiveness to be a starter, but will be able to contribute either on defense or special teams.
Blake Ferguson, LS
Projected: Round 6, Pick No. 181 (Broncos)
Ferguson, once considered the top long snapper in the high school ranks, has been reliable on special teams for LSU since his redshirt freshman season, even earning team captain honors in 2018 and ’19. His brother, Reid Ferguson, is in the middle of a three-year contract with the Bills in the same position.
MORE: Which school has the better pros — LSU or Alabama?
Michael Divinity Jr., LB
Projected: Round 6, Pick No. 187 (Browns)
Divinity excelled in 2018 as a starter before missing nine games due to an ankle injury and eligibility issues. His length allowed him to play at both inside linebacker and EDGE for LSU, but he’ll likely need to focus on one position at the next level.
Stephen Sullivan, TE
Projected: Round 7, Pick No. 218 (Giants)
Sullivan is a big-bodied receiver (6-5, 248 pounds) whose productivity dropped off as Burrow found more consistent targets elsewhere in the Tigers’ receiving corps. He’ll need to improve his functional blocking strength but could contribute as a flex tight end or big slot receiver.