Each year around this time college football fans start wondering who is leaving early for the NFL draft. LSU has done remarkably well plugging in players and have shown the depth to overcome these early exits. Other SEC teams have struggled to recover (see Auburn Tigers) from losing their top underclassmen to the big show.
Who from LSU may be considering a jump to the NFL?Remember that red-shirt sophomores and juniors may leave early for the NFL draft.
Of this group, I would put All-American Morris Claiborne at 99% chance of going to the NFL draft. Who could blame Claiborne? Claiborne has led the Tigers to a BCS title game and won every possible award . His draft stock is as high as it will probably ever be and coming back would only risk injury.
WR Rueben Randle has hinted that he might test the waters, so I rate him as a
60% chance of going to the NFL. Randle has been the most productive receiver in the SEC this year even with spotty quarterback play. His size and speed are what NFL general managers are looking for in an NFL receiver. Randle could benefit from another year in college, but a big game against Alabama could propel him into the draft.
DE Sam Montgomery has scouts drooling over his size, speed and desire to play all out on each play. Montgomery is coming off a season ending injury the previous year, so that might factor into his decision making. I feel as if Montgomery is a 50/50 guy. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Montgomery coming back for one more year. I just wouldn’t bet a lot of money.
DT Michael Brockers has been lauded by Defensive Coordinator John Chavis as being one the best defensive tackles to ever play for the coach. That is high praise as Chavis has coached many college All-Americans at that position. Brockers will be in high demand from NFL teams, but I put him at a 30% chance of going to the NFL.
The big unknown factor is what effect the BCS title game will have on the decision making process. A big win by LSU could possible cause all of these players to forgo the rest of their college eligibility. Many players come to college for 2 reasons, to play for a championship and to prepare to play in the NFL.
Les Miles’ coaching staff has done a great job recruiting and developing depth which has allowed the Tigers to flourish even as top players like Patrick Peterson left early for the NFL.
If these players leave early, look for underclassmen like WR Jarvis Landry, DE Jemauria Rasco, DT Anthony Johnson, and CB Tharold Simon to get a chance to shine.
Fear not, the cupboard is far from bare at Death Valley.