The defending national champion LSU Tigers, unsurprisingly, saw a large group of their players selected into the NFL in April’s draft. 14 players to be exact, heard their names called during the seven rounds, which tied a seven-round record (Ohio State, 2004). A few more players then also signed with teams as undrafted free agents, making for a very good weekend for LSU’s former players.
This also means that LSU has plenty of retooling to do on both sides of the ball. On offense, that retooling, of course, starts with arguably the best wide receiver in the country, Ja’Marr Chase, who might be a top-five pick in next year’s draft. Meanwhile, on defense, LSU will be looking into the trenches at what could be the anchor and the foundation of their 2020 defense in defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin.
Shelvin has already demonstrated that he is a force on the LSU defense and will be relied on even more in 2020 with the losses of K’Lavon Chaisson, Patrick Queen, and Rashard Lawrence, among others. He’ll have a huge opportunity to improve his draft stock in the 2020 college football season. Here are three reasons he is the next excellent LSU defensive tackle in the draft.
Extremely athletic and physical for his size
Shelvin is listed at 346 pounds on the school’s website. However, he sure can move quickly for someone that big. Shelvin has great get-off from the snap, is consistently quick off the ball, and more often than not, is the first player moving after the snap. There are not too many players that can do all that at almost 350 pounds.
Shelvin is also very physical and tough at the line of scrimmage, meaning that opposing offenses are always double-teaming and game-planning against him. Even when he is double-teamed, Shelvin’s effort still breaks through, and while his numbers may not light up a scoresheet, he still makes an impact on the field. His willingness to take on double teams allows his teammates to roam around and make plays, some of which just got drafted in the form of the aforementioned Chaisson (Jaguars), Queen (Ravens), and Lawrence (Cardinals).
Shelvin set to become one of the leaders of the team
Defensive leaders are always enticing to NFL teams, and Shelvin has surely earned that role with his play last season. Because of all the players lost in the 2020 NFL Draft, Shelvin will become one of the more experienced players returning for the Tigers. He and Glen Logan will anchor the LSU defensive line, but Shelvin is likely to be the one with more of a national spotlight on him in the coming season. There has already been some talk that he is a top-five defensive lineman in what is expected to be a very talented class, with the likes of Florida State’s Marvin Wilson, USC’s Jay Tufele, and Colorado’s Mustafa Johnson, just to name a few.
One of the biggest keys for Shelvin in 2020 is to relish the leadership role he is about to embrace. He needs to be a player the rest of the defense, which is set to be pretty young, can look up to. He fought hard in the National Semifinal against Oklahoma and what was a very good offensive line, led by center Creed Humphrey.
Not just a run-stuffer
When you think of a 350-pound defensive lineman, you might think he’s just a nose tackle set to clog up the middle against the run while unlikely to cause much havoc in the passing game. However, Shelvin is different, as he gets his hands on offensive linemen and can drive them back into the pocket in order to prevent the quarterback from stepping up into a clean pocket.
Shelvin does a very nice job of attacking with his initial hand punch on the opposing offensive lineman and getting early control. Very rarely does he get knocked off his position and driven back or lose control. Whether he is double-teamed or not, he’s either in a spot where the quarterback can’t step up because his lane is blocked or he is powerful enough to drive his opponent back, shed his block, and put pressure on the quarterback. Don’t let the low number of sacks deceive you, Shelvin can make life miserable for a quarterback.
Recent LSU drafted defensive linemen
As mentioned earlier, LSU defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence was drafted in the fourth round in 2020 by the Arizona Cardinals. LSU has also seen another recent defensive tackle see success in the league in Miami Dolphins’ 2017 fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux.
Perhaps the best defensive lineman to come out of LSU in recent memory is Minnesota Vikings’ defensive end Danielle Hunter, who has racked up back-to-back seasons with 14.5 sacks and has 54.5 total sacks in five seasons.
Of course, you have the misses with the hits. Arden Key and Ego Ferguson are the recent ones that come to mind, particularly Key, who had plenty of hype before the 2018 draft cycle before plummeting to the third round and has just three sacks in two seasons.
Overall, Shelvin is on the right track as a defensive player, and he is deservedly already on the radar in the early portion of next year’s draft in Cleveland.