By Brad Cochran @Babylonbrad
The next few weeks will be the biggest test for many of the players entering the combine to boost up their draft stock. Some will excel and some will not meet the standards of a lot of these coaches. One thing is for sure, this is where the boys become men. With that being said, let’s talk about some of the talent coming out of LSU.
Early on at Blanche Ely High School in Pombano, FL, Rashard Robinson ranked as a 3-star athlete, but finished off his high school career earning a 4-star rating. He also was named a PrepStar Top 300 All-American. His college career was shortlived after getting into some serious issues that kept him off the field. With only 2 starts in 2013, he had his best performance against Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, holding him to only 4 catches for 51 yards. Robinson is a major threat from his blazing fast speed and his ability to pin receivers on the sideline. His weakness would definitely be the lack of playing time due to the amount of trouble off the field.
Jerald Hawkins career at LSU was just as expected if not more. Coming out of West St. Mary High School in New Orleans, LA, Hawkins was ranked as #20 by ESPN.com. He was red shirted as a true freshman in 2012. In 2013, he won the starting job at right tackle during fall camp. Hawkins played in all 13 games, 12 starting at right tackle and one at left tackle for injured La’el Collins. The following year, Hawkins allowed Leonard Fournette run wild as he rushed 1000 yards. Hawkins opted to forgo his senior season in order to enter the NFL draft. His strengths consist of being able to flash his power by snatching his defender and maintaining his grip. Speed is also a plus for Hawkins. The down side of Hawkins is his lack of consistent play snap after snap. Even though he at times flashes his power some say his overall power and play strength needs to improve.
Jalen Mills is another perfect example of the “DBU” (Defensive Back University) as commonly said down on the bayou. Out of DeSoto High School in Desota, Texas, Mills was ranked #33 as cornerback by 247sports.com. As a freshman, he started in all 13 games as cornerback and ranked 4th amongst the team with 57 total tackles, two interceptions, and 5 pass breakups. He was even more relentless in his sophomore season when he tallied up 67 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 interceptions. Sadly in 2015, a leg injury caused Mills to only play in 6 games for his senior season. Mills strengths start with his foot work and ability to get to the ball. He is also a great blitzer from the slot. A little weight game to improve his build could enhance his tackling game.
Out of New Orleans, Louisiana, Deion Jones led Jesuit High School to one of their best seasons in program history. Going 12-1 on the season and reaching the quarterfinals in 5A championship, Jones was considered, a top prospect. As a freshman, Jones gained a great amount of playing time playing in all 3 games without a start. He was an impact player on special teams, with devastating hits and great coverage. Throughout sophomore and into junior season, Jones played in all 13 games without a start. It wasn’t until late in his junior season when he finally got the nod to play for injured Kwon Alexander. Jones senior season was as good as it could get on the field. He recorded 100 tackles and 13.5 tackles for a loss. In 2015, Jones was a finalist for the Butkus Award, which awards college football’s top linebackers. His strengths are speed from sideline to sideline and amazing foot work while changing directions. A weakness that can be considered is Jones’s limited time on the field in his last season. The obvious fatigue late in games is also a drawback.
Lastly, Vadal Alexander. In my opinion, Alexander is one of the best offensive lineman in this upcoming draft. He is the type of player that everyone would love to have on their team.
During his years at Buford High School, he was ranked as high as #9 in the state of Georgia and ranked #75 in the ESPNU 150. Alexander’s freshman season, he started in 9 out of all 13 games that he played. The following season, he played and started all 13 games and finished with a total of 49.5 knockdowns. While alongside the great La’el Collins (now playing for the Dallas Cowboys), Alexander was part one of the best offensive lines to come through LSU. It showed with numerous record-breaking plays by Leonard Fournette running untouched behind them. Senior season, Alexander earned multiple honors while only allowing two sacks all year. Alexander’s uses his build to his advantage with the ability to be able to pretty much throw anyone around. His strong upper body strength helps close the gaps. His weakness is his speed and footwork. Some say he will be nothing more than a tackle, Alexander needs extra conditioning.
Taking into account all of these players’ strengths, weaknesses, and high ranking histories, are they prepared enough to get drafted as high as they expect? Do they fall late in the draft? Do they even get drafted? One thing is certain LSU football program sends the talent year in and year out.