Looking ahead: 5 LSU football players who’ll be picked in 2018 NFL Draft – SECcountry.com

BATON ROUGE, La. — Like it or not, LSU football fans, it’s already 2018 mock draft season.

The 2017 NFL Draft has barely been put to sleep, but while everyone else is tabulating grades and looking ahead to their fantasy drafts, we here at SEC Country thought it would be better to look at the future of NFLSU. After a weekend where the LSU football team had eight players drafted, and eight more signed undrafted free agent deals, LSU is poised to have another big NFL draft weekend in 2018.

The class won’t be as deep next year, but the star talent at the top might be even bigger. So, with that in mind, here are five LSU football players who’ll be picked in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Derrius Guice

Any hopes you have of Derrius Guice returning for a senior season are ill-fated. Guice already has said in numerous reports that he plans on heading to the NFL after this year. And with the sophomore year he had in 2016, can you blame him?

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LSU running back Derrius Guice rushed for nearly 1,400 yards in 2016. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The SEC’s leading returning rusher only figures to get better in 2017 now that Leonard Fournette has moved on to the NFL and Matt Canada’s offense will spread defenses out of the box.

If he can stay healthy and progress between Year 2 and 3 the way pundits are expecting, he has a legitimate chance to follow Fournette’s lead and be the first running back off the board in 2018.

Even if he doesn’t progress, back-to-back 1,300-plus yard seasons get a guy picked. He’s a no-brainer.

Projected Round: First

Arden Key

Forget his absence this spring. Arden Key has top-10 size and top-5 production.

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Arden Key led LSU in sacks in 2016 with 12. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

The 6-foot-6, 238-pound edge rusher is an absolute menace, perhaps the best in college football. His school-record 12 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and 3 forced fumbles as a sophomore tell that story pretty well.

Sure, Key’s choice to skip out on spring ball this year to focus on personal stuff might be a red flag for some teams. But purely evaluating him based on his size, speed, production and potential, Key has No. 1 overall pick ability.

He’s not Myles Garrett, but he’s honestly not that far off, either.

Projected Round: First

Donte Jackson

They don’t call LSU “DBU” for nothing.

The junior cornerback is poised to become the next member of the Tigers secondary to be an early draft pick. Jackson isn’t as gifted as a technician as Tre’Davious White the No. 27 overall pick in the 2017 draft. But he makes up for his lack of top-flight technique with athletic prowess. The ‘Fastest Man in College Football‘ has incredible recovery speed, and profiles well as a kick returner and strong special teams player at the next level.

That’s not to say he’s not a good cornerback. Jackson broke up 8 passes and intercepted 2 last season. And he had the brunt of the responsibility in the LSU defensive backfield because opponents were so afraid to throw at White and Jamal Adams. If he can become a little more consistent, there’s no reason he can’t climb draft boards everywhere.

Projected Round: Second

D.J. Chark

There was talk after last season that Chark could’ve entered this year’s draft. Luckily for LSU football fans, Chark chose to return for his senior season.

LSU’s returning leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, the rising senior had a breakout 2016, bursting on the scene with 2 rushing touchdowns and 3 receiving scores. Touches are only expected to go up for the long, speedy target now that Canada is in town, as Chark’s agility off the edge makes him the perfect candidate to run Canada’s much-discussed jet sweep.

Given the way we saw former LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre fall in the draft this weekend, production will be paramount for Chark this year. What seemed to sink Dupre was his lack of production in 2016, and Dupre caught 15 more passes than Chark did. If Chark can catch passes at a high rate, he’ll rise up into the middle rounds of the draft. But, even if he can’t, his 6-foot-3 frame and track-star speed will get him drafted somewhere.

Projected Round: Third-fourth

Will Clapp

Offensive linemen aren’t the flashiest players, but Clapp truly is one of the best players the LSU football team has to offer.

He’s bumping inside from guard to center this year, a position he profiles well at. And he already graded out well last year, being a part of the best interior line in college football per Pro Football Focus. Clapp is a gifted pass blocker who didn’t allow a sack in 2016, only allowing his quarterback to be hit twice.

Because he’s on the shorter side (if you can call 6-foot-5 “shorter”), Clapp likely will stay at center at the next level. A strong season paving the way for Guice and Co. could prove tantalizing for NFL teams looking to build inside out. Lingering concerns about his injury history probably will keep him from Day 1 consideration, but he can climb into the second round with a good season, just as former teammate Ethan Pocic did Friday.

Projected Round: Third-fourth

Other possible LSU football draft picks

Seniors:

  • DE Christian LaCouture
  • DT Greg Gilmore
  • FB/H-Back J.D. Moore
  • LB Donnie Alexander
  • DB Ed Paris

Juniors:

  • Kevin Toliver
  • Foster Moreau

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