The last two seasons have been the least successful of the 21st century for the LSU Tigers, but it hasn’t stopped them from achieving draft success. As the program looks to recover under Brian Kelly, their early list of 2023 NFL Draft prospects should provide LSU fans — and college football fans in general — plenty of excitement in the upcoming college season.
LSU prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
From Devin White in 2019 to Derek Stingley Jr. this past April, LSU is on a four-year run of first-round draft picks. Early signs indicate that the streak should continue in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Tigers may produce one or more first-round picks next April. Yet, it’s not necessarily the Day 1 potential that should excite. LSU has a deep list of prospects who could expect to hear their name called at any point of the annual selection event.
Kayshon Boutte, WR
LSU pass catcher Kayshon Boutte may be the most exciting wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Boasting insane after-the-catch ability, Boutte is fast, explosive, and something of a contortionist with the ball in his hands. If he develops more as a contested-catch threat while working on some focus drops, there’s every chance Boutte challenges for the WR1 crown when April comes around.
BJ Ojulari, EDGE
Watch out for the LSU pass rush this season. The younger brother of New York Giants OLB Azeez Ojulari is set to make a name for himself this fall. While two LSU pass rushers are earning early attention, there’s a strong chance BJ Ojulari emerges as the better of the two.
Ojulari led the team with seven sacks last fall while adding 12 tackles for loss to his résumé. The 6’3″, 244-pound EDGE flashed bend, a loaded pass-rush toolbox, and the ability to string moves together. The latter is significant for his NFL projection.
Mekhi Garner, CB
Can LSU bolster their claim to be “DBU” with another successful secondary showing in the 2023 NFL Draft? The early leading contender for selection is cornerback Mekhi Garner, a transfer from Louisiana.
A ballhawk in the secondary, Garner has tallied 15 pass breakups and three interceptions over the last two seasons. At 6’2″ and 212 pounds, he’s a physical threat at the catch point. Meanwhile, he utilizes his size to climb the ladder and length to make a play on the ball. As a tackler, Garner frequently seeks the opportunity to punch the ball out.
Jaquelin Roy, DT
While LSU has plenty of pass-rush potential in the 2023 NFL Draft class, Jaquelin Roy may be one of their best front-seven players. The 6’4″, 297-pound defensive tackle showcases an excellent first step and play speed.
His size is weaponized by violent, powerful hands that are as adept at shedding blocks as they are shocking offensive linemen on initial contact. Roy’s ability to impact the backfield was demonstrated with six tackles for loss this fall, and he’ll have the opportunity to be the primary playmaker on the interior defensive line.
Ali Gaye, EDGE
After an injury ended his hopes of making a significant impact last fall, Ali Gaye returns with the hope of asserting himself in the 2023 NFL Draft class. A tall, long pass rusher at 6’6″ and 250 pounds, Gaye boasts good explosion and straight-line speed while having an element of flexibility off the edge.
He’s also showcased some impressive handwork and has several pass-rush moves at his disposal. There’s some development to be done, and his status as an older rookie could harm his stock, but Gaye definitely has NFL potential.
Mike Jones Jr., LB
After three seasons at Clemson, Mike Jones Jr. transferred to LSU ahead of the last college football season. He appeared in 10 games and tallied 34 tackles with 2 1/2 for loss. At Clemson, he played an outside linebacker role, but last season, he transitioned inside for LSU.
Continuing to build on last year, particularly his role down in the box, will help improve Jones’ 2023 NFL Draft profile. He’s an exceptional athlete who can evade blockers with lateral agility or by using his length, and he also possesses sideline-to-sideline range.
Micah Baskerville, LB
Pro Football Network Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline was high on Micah Baskerville ahead of the 2021 season, stating that “Baskerville is very underrated in my opinion. He’s a swift 225-pound defender who stacks well against the run, makes plays in pursuit, and shows a lot of coverage ability.”
Baskerville is the top tackler returning to the team for this season after tallying 83 tackles with nine for loss last fall. While he might be considered undersized, the fifth-year senior has showcased the ability to impact all phases of the game.
Greg Brooks Jr., CB
With several departures, LSU’s secondary will be substantially manned by transfer players this summer. Greg Brooks Jr. looks set to be the starting nickel back following his transfer from Arkansas.
The 5’11”, 185-pound senior cornerback secured an interception in all three seasons with the Razorbacks, bringing obvious ball skills to the LSU defense. Brooks also provides explosive athletic ability, evidenced by a verified near-36″ high school vert. He has experience putting that explosiveness to use getting into the backfield too.
Miles Frazier, G
In a stark contrast to his high school recruiting, Miles Frazier was one of the top offensive line prospects in the transfer portal following the 2021 season. A 12-game starter for Florida International at left tackle, Frazier allowed just four sacks last fall, earning Freshman All-American honors.
This season, the 6’5″, 325-pound redshirt sophomore will kick inside to guard for LSU. He’s showcased a potent punch and solid anchor in pass protection while having the athleticism and strength to be a force in the ground game.
Myles Brennan, QB
We still don’t know who the starting quarterback will be for LSU this fall. With a plethora of pass catchers, whoever takes the job will undoubtedly earn 2023 NFL Draft attention.
Coming off the back of unique surgery, Myles Brennan has almost become a forgotten man outside Baton Rouge. However, on his day, he possesses a super-strong arm and the ability to make just about any throw asked of him. With just 201 pass attempts since 2017, however, there’s not enough evidence to make a clear projection for his future right now.
Jayden Daniels, QB
One of the challengers to Brennan in the QB battle is former Arizona State dual-threat Jayden Daniels. Despite two fewer years of experience, Daniels has substantially more playing time in his career than his competitor.
Furthermore, he’s showcased that he has the arm strength and the ability to zip the ball on short and intermediate throws. As a mobile creator, Daniels possesses speed and deceptive elusiveness for his size. Accuracy issues and his slender frame may impact his 2023 NFL Draft stock.
Noah Cain, RB
After rushing for nine touchdowns as a freshman, Noah Cain looked set to be the next great Penn State running back. However, injuries impacted his time with the Nittany Lions, and he’ll need to prove himself in a new running back room following his transfer to LSU.
The fourth-year running back has a stocky frame that screams workhorse back. However, he’s showcased the ability to be shifty out of the backfield while offering some pass-catching upside. If he can win the starting job, Cain could put himself in 2023 NFL Draft contention.
John Emery Jr., RB
The man most likely to hold that RB1 role for LSU in the upcoming college football season is John Emery Jr. He missed the entire 2021 season due to academic issues, but the 5’11, 220-pound running back is primed to stamp his name on the 2023 NFL Draft class.
A potential three-down back at the NFL level, Emery showcases speed and explosiveness but possesses the physicality to get the job done between the tackles. Meanwhile, he ticks the box as a running back prospect where pass protection and pass catching are concerned.
Jarrick Bernard-Converse, CB
After four successful seasons with Oklahoma State, Jarrick Bernard-Converse heads to LSU to put his coverage skills to the test in the SEC. Seeing time at cornerback and safety for the Cowboys, JBC has tallied 24 pass breakups in almost 50 appearances.
It goes without saying — yet here we are — that he brings incredible experience to the secondary. He’s a ballhawk that allowed a sub-50% completion rate when targeted last year. Bernard-Converse is also a willing and able tackler who has made plays in the backfield for OSU.
Jaray Jenkins, WR
While Boutte attracts the majority of the attention in the 2023 NFL Draft class, don’t sleep on his teammate Jaray Jenkins. When Boutte went down injured last fall, the now-senior pass catcher picked up the slack, tallying 502 receiving yards at 14.8 yards per catch with six touchdowns.
Separating yourself in a deeply talented receiver room is hard, but Jenkins has shown he has the route-running skills to separate on deep balls with aplomb. His 6’2″, 205-pound frame gives him a catch-point advantage, as do his reliable hands.
Jay Ward, S
In a secondary that has seen an almost complete turnover from 2021, free safety Jay Ward could be the only returning starter this year. He finished third on the team with 69 tackles. Meanwhile, he led LSU with two interceptions last fall.
A starting safety for this season, Ward also possesses cornerback experience, and versatility is an important cornerstone of his 2023 NFL Draft potential. Despite coming in under 200 pounds, the LSU playmaker is able to hit with ferocity. He also offers great ball skills and instincts in coverage.
Tre’Mond Shorts, G
Pro Football Network Draft Analyst Ian Cummings recently included new LSU guard Tre’Mond Shorts in his list of interior offensive line breakout candidates for the 2023 NFL Draft. While Shorts is a former FCS All-American, few casual fans will likely have heard of the 6’5″, 340-pound offensive lineman from East Tennessee State. Cummings had this to say about the new addition to the LSU offensive line:
“The 2021 FCS All-American is listed at a massive 6’5″, 340 pounds, and he brings a lot more than size. Sure, his incredibly wide frame and long arms serve as invaluable assets. But Shorts is also surprisingly fleet-footed and quick off the line for his size. He has the tools to play at both tackle and guard, but particularly at guard, his combination of short-range athleticism and power could be dangerous.”
Joe Foucha, S
Another transfer in the secondary is finishing off LSU’s early 2023 NFL Draft prospects. Joe Foucha made a name for himself at Arkansas, where he had 230 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 12 pass breakups in his four-year playing career. Additionally, Foucha had at least one interception in each of his last three campaigns.
He’s a physical threat who has a nose for the football, earning comparison to Tyrann Mathieu from his former Arkansas teammates. That comparison is somewhat fitting now that he’s suiting up for LSU this fall.