Football was not nearly as easy for the LSU Tigers in 2020. After dominating college football in 2019, the Tigers fell back to reality after losing a team-record 14 players to the 2020 NFL Draft. Head coach Ed Orgeron oversaw his team to a 5-5 record, which forced LSU to rely on a pair of true freshman QBs down the stretch. With the season wrapped up and LSU’s 2021 Pro Day here, which NFL Draft prospects should you keep your eye on?
When is LSU’s Pro Day?
The 2021 pro day for the LSU Tigers will take place on March 31.
Top LSU prospects working out
The top receiver and No. 2 ranked player on Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline’s 2021 prospect rankings, Ja’Marr Chase has maintained this ranking despite opting out of the 2020 college football season. Chase always showed the potential to be a receiving threat. In his senior year of high school at Archbishop Rummel School for Boys, he caught 61 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He received plenty of offers from other Power 5 teams, but staying close to home was a priority and LSU was just an hour away.
Ja’Marr Chase avoided the dreaded redshirt tag as a true freshman in 2018, appearing in ten games. He finished the season with 23 receptions for 313 yards and 3 scores. However, under the direction of coaching wizard Joe Brady, Chase and the rest of the Tigers’ offense turned in jaw-dropping performances in 2019.
A year to remember
The sophomore WR amassed 84 receptions for 1,720 yards and 20 touchdowns while working side-by-side with the Minnesota Vikings 2020 first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson. Chase had little to prove as the household name and outright leader of his position class. When COVID-19 took the world by storm, Chase opted out of the 2020 season.
According to Pauline, “Chase is a gifted athlete and natural receiver who dominated at the college level and should easily adapt to the NFL. He projects as a No. 1 wideout at the next level and is a terrific prospect with incredible upside.”
Given his playmaking ability and athleticism, teams will flock to the vertical ability he possesses when high-pointing passes. With that in mind, PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings believes the best fits for the 2021 LSU WR prospect include the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers.
Terrace Marshall Jr.
After Chase decided to forgo his true junior campaign, Terrace Marshall Jr. took over as the No. 1 option in the Tigers’ receiving corps. Marshall Jr. was highly recruited as well. In fact, he finished his high school career as the top-ranked recruit in Louisiana and the No. 2 WR in the nation. In the end, he chose to stay close to home and accept his offer from LSU.
Terrace Marshall Jr. saw limited action in his freshman season, compiling 12 catches for 192 yards. Despite being in a crowded receiver room in 2019, Marshall Jr. produced respectable numbers, reeling in 46 passes for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even though his numbers were already impressive, his real jump came in 2020.
With both Jefferson and Chase absent, and in a pandemic shortened season, Marshall was more efficient than ever, hauling in 48 receptions for 731 yards and 10 TDs.
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In spite of starting the season out strong, his impact faded towards the end. As Pauline explains, “Marshall displayed steady development in his game the past two seasons and is a natural pass catcher who must pay attention to the details of his position. He possesses all the underlying skills to develop into a second wideout for an NFL team.”
A strong day of testing at LSU’s 2021 Pro Day will strengthen his draft profile. His size and speed make the 2021 LSU WR prospect an intriguing piece in a deep passing game. Refining the little nuances of his game will be necessary, but it is not something NFL-level coaching can’t fix.
Struggles to develop yards after the catch will drop Marshall Jr. down at least a few teams’ big boards. According to Cummings, the best fits for the WR in the 2021 NFL Draft include the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, and Washington Football Team.
Enough with offensive playmakers. What about the defensive side of the ball? Enter linebacker Jabril Cox as another of LSU’s top prospects for 2021.
Cox’s road to LSU was a bit rockier than most, however. As a stand-out high school athlete at Raytown South High School, he played multiple positions on the football field.
Cox was recruited as a dual-threat QB which caused him to receive just a two-star ranking. Failing to receive many FBS offers, Cox went to the FCS and joined the North Dakota State Bisons in 2016.
Redshirting his freshman season, Cox debuted in 2017, playing in all 15 games. He wracked up 75 total tackles, including 13 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He also registered an interception, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, and 4 pass deflections.
Cox would improve upon those numbers in 2018, logging 91 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. Becoming a menace in pass coverage, Cox also intercepted 4 more passes and deflected another 7.
One season in the FBS
A three-time national champion, the NDSU graduate transferred to the Tigers for the 2020 season. He compiled 58 total tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, a pick-six, and 5 deflected passes.
Pauline stated, “Cox is a hard-working linebacker who plays tough, instinctive football. He’s a true three-down defender and a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker who needs to get a bit stronger to complete his game.”
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The best fits for the four-year LB include the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, and Washington Football Team per Cummings. Projected as a firm Day 2 pick, a solid outing at LSU’s 2021 Pro Day will only raise Cox’s draft stock.
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