The LSU Tigers will have a shakeup on defense after defensive stars declare for the 2013 NFL draft.
Normally, that would be worrisome for Tiger fans, but the depth on defense isn't a joke. After last year's great linebacker recruiting class and the experience gained in the secondary in 2012, LSU will be just fine.
Assuming that Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Bennie Logan, Kevin Minter, Tharold Simon and Eric Reid all turn pro, this is the projected defensive depth chart for 2013.
Who will step up to become the new faces of this LSU defense?
It's going to be a sad day when Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are both no longer occupying the defensive end positions.
Fret not, LSU fans, the Tigers have some explosive young guns ready to step up and fill in.
Assuming both Mingo and Montgomery declare for the NFL draft, LSU will need some of its younger players to step up and contribute.
One of the players that should step up and gain the starting position is Jermauria Rasco. Rasco is an extremely raw, athletic defensive end, but expect him to make waves this spring and in the fall.
Backup: Frank Herron
Anthony Johnson should have been starting in 2012.
He's far and away better than Josh Downs, but head coach Les Miles allowed Downs to start for most of his senior season. Johnson coming off of the bench was much more productive.
Downs only had 15 tackles this season, while Johnson doubled that production, as well as 6.5 more tackles for loss.
With Johnson starting on the defensive line, LSU will have yet another quality lineman on the defensive front.
Backup: Mickey Johnson
This is all assuming Bennie Logan declares early for the NFL draft.
Should he do so, expect Ego Ferguson to become the starter next to Johnson on the defensive line.
As mentioned earlier, Miles likes to start seniors over young players at times, so Ferguson should get the start. Ferguson had 11 tackles for the Tigers in 2012.
But that doesn't mean he won't be sharing playing time. LSU likes to rotate defensive linemen in regularly, and with Rivals 4-star defensive tackle Greg Gilmore coming into town, expect the young, talented defensive lineman to gain some playing time.
Backup: Greg Gilmore
Lavar Edwards might be the most underrated player on LSU's roster.
Overshadowed by Mingo and Montgomery, Edwards has received very little credit for LSU's success in 2012. But the truth is, he's been outstanding at the defensive end position.
When Mingo and Montgomery head to the bench, there's been very little drop-off on the field. Give Edwards a lot of credit for that.
In 2012, Aghayere put up very little stats, but as he becomes a premiere player on this defensive line, expect his production to increase dramatically in 2013.
Backup: Justin Maclin
Kwon Alexander is everything "The Chief" looks for in a linebacker.
Alexander is a speedy linebacker that has the athleticism to cover and track down running backs and make the tackle. That should make John Chavis all warm inside.
Unfortunately, Alexander's season was cut short due to a broken ankle against Florida. But before he was injured, he showed off his athleticism in that game.
The future is bright for this young man, and he should impress enough to become the full-time starter in 2013.
Backup: Lamar Louis
The Tigers are loaded with linebackers, so picking which ones will start and which ones will be the immediate backup in 2013 is rather difficult.
It's far too early to tell, but if you had to place bets on who would be the starting middle linebacker, Ronnie Feist might be the way to go.
Feist is a physical specimen that is really strong against the run. If Kevin Minter enters the draft early, LSU fans will surely miss that tackling machine, but Feist could become another great one.
Feist impressed his physical prowess in LSU's Big Cat Drill last year, and when push comes to shove, Feist will be doing most of the shoving.
Backup: Trey Granier
Deion Jones is another linebacker that's sure to get the attention of Chavis.
Like Alexander, Jones is athletic and can move very well from side to side. Jones had 21 tackles for the Tigers in 2012.
Now, obviously, beating out Lamin Barrow will be difficult. Barrow not only has the experience advantage, but he's a very talented football player.
Jones and Barrow should both find playing time, but when it's all said and done, Jones will prove to be slightly better in 2013.
Backup: Lamin Barrow
Well, at least LSU's secondary will have experience in 2013.
That's one positive way of looking at Tyrann Mathieu's departure, because really, Jalen Mills' play as a true freshman in 2012 was sensational.
Mills had two interceptions and two passes broken up for the Tigers in 2012.
With Mills having such a phenomenal freshman season, expect Mills to keep his starting position and be even better next year.
Backup: Rashard Robinson
Whenever Ronald Martin was called upon, he delivered for LSU.
Due to injuries, Martin would receive some playing time in 2012, and he certainly didn't disappoint. In fact, he did quite well.
As a backup, Martin created three turnovers for this LSU defense. He had two interceptions and forced a fumble playing as a safety.
Expect a very little drop-off in the secondary with Martin becoming a starter.
Backup: Jerqwinick Sandolph
Because he redshirted after receiving playing time his freshman year, Craig Loston will return in the secondary for the Tigers.
Loston is a hard hitting safety that has grown leaps and bounds his junior year.
In fact, he never looked better than when he played in the Chick-fil-a Bowl against Clemson. Loston was flying around making tackles and putting hard hits on anyone in orange that touched the ball.
Loston will be backed by Micah Eugene, and you can expect Eugene to be used a lot in 2013.
Backup: Micah Eugene
Jalen Collins is a perfect example of LSU's depth.
LSU loses Mathieu, Brandon Taylor and Mo Claiborne in the secondary, but the Tigers secondary was almost just as good without them. Hey, almost.
A big reason for that was the emergence of Mills, but also the rise of Collins as a cover corner.
Collins had just as many interceptions as Mills did this past season with two, and he even had more pass deflections with six. With Collins and Mills returning, DBU should be just fine in the secondary once again.
Backup: Dwayne Thomas