LSU Football

Predicting Former LSU Players' 2014 NFL Combine Performances

Carter BryantContributor IFebruary 19, 2014

Predicting Former LSU Players' 2014 NFL Combine Performances

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    Former LSU safety Eric Reid was impressive at last year's combine. He was selected in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers, earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.
    Former LSU safety Eric Reid was impressive at last year's combine. He was selected in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers, earning Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.Associated Press

    Late February means the "Underwear Olympics" are about to take over the football headlines. The NFL combine is only days away, and LSU will be sending a multitude of players yet again to Indianapolis for the festivities. 

    According to LSU director of player personnel Austin Thomas, the Tigers have had more players invited to the combine than any other school in the SEC over the past four seasons. LSU will be sending 11 in 2014. 

    Testing well at the combine does not mean a player will be great. Showing great athleticism in tights is far different than performing well in pads. 

    Also, the combine is not the final time that players will get to showcase their skills in front of scouts. Schools will still host their own pro days before the NFL draft.

    Nevertheless, running a blazing fast 40-yard dash can skyrocket a player's stock, which could result in millions. 

Zach Mettenberger, Quarterback

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Zach Mettenberger is a fascinating prospect in the eyes of NFL scouts. 

    New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron took Mettenberger's game to the next level in 2013. The 6'4'' quarterback dismantled defenses with the help of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill. 

    He proved he could make all the throws with his immense arm strength. He even made plays when his pass protection broke down, showing off his toughness. 

    NFL draft guru Mike Mayock did not list Mettenberger in his top five prospects at quarterback, yet he should not be that far back from the pack.

    Some will question if his numbers are inflated because of his star-studded cast. But the main concern is his health. He ended 2013 with a torn ACL against Arkansas, which sidelined him for the bowl game against Iowa. Cameron told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his former quarterback's recovery has been "miraculous," saying it rivals Adrian Peterson's comeback two seasons ago. 

    Mettenberger will not be able to participate in drills at the combine. But he will be in attendance in Indianapolis to participate in meetings with NFL personnel and a medical evaluation. 

Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.42

    Bench-Press Reps: 16

    Stock Up/Down: Up 

    Odell Beckham Jr. was LSU's best all-around playmaker in 2013. 

    He finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. He was also an ace returner for kicks and punts. 

    Like Mettenberger, Beckham Jr. was left out of Mike Mayock's top five at his position. However, it will surprise no one if he ends up being a first-round pick. 

    He is so smooth and fluid. NFL teams will be blown away in drills by how effortless he makes the game look. 

Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver

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    The Big Lead

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.57

    Bench-Press Reps: 19

    Stock Up/Down: Up 

    Jarvis Landry joined forces with Odell Beckham Jr. to be the first receiving tandem in LSU history to each accumulate more than 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Of the two, Landry finished with the better numbers. 

    He ended up with 77 receptions for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was a menace for defenses as he consistently made timely plays for LSU. 

    He did not blow by defenses in college, and he won't in the NFL either. His bread and butter was made on short and intermediate routes. He is a superb route-runner and has a knack for getting open on third downs. 

    NFL scouts are not expecting a blazing 40-yard dash from "Juice." But if he could squeeze out a sub-4.6 and excel in the three-cone drill, his stock could rise. 

Jeremy Hill, Running Back

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.51

    Bench-Press Reps: 20

    Stock Up/Down: Up 

    Jeremy Hill has the chance to be the best NFL rookie from LSU in 2014. 

    He can carry a pile or make a tackler miss. In 2013, he rushed for 1,401 yards on 203 carries and 16 touchdowns. 

    He will get grilled with tough questions about his well-documented off-the-field issues. He will need to convince NFL teams that he is a changed man. 

    How fast he runs in the 40-yard dash will be fascinating. He is a big back at 6'2'', 235 pounds, yet he is known for explosive touchdown runs. If he runs well, his stock could skyrocket. 

Trai Turner, Right Guard

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 5.11

    Bench Press Reps: 30

    Stock Up/Down: Up 

    Trai Turner's decision to enter the draft shocked many people. He was a solid guard for LSU who started for two seasons. While he did not show major improvements from his freshman to sophomore season, he did get better. 

    He has great size at 6'3'' and has proved to be a mauler in the run game. Yet in pass protection, he and the rest of the offensive line struggled against defensive stunts. In the NFL, scouts and coaches will notice that on film and pick on him. Yet that is fixable, as he will have more experienced teammates who are great communicators in the pros.

    Guards are not at a premium like tackles in the NFL. Turner did not make Mike Mayock's top five guards, so he will need to impress at the combine to move up draft boards.  

J.C. Copeland, Fullback

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.92

    Bench-Press Reps: 34

    Stock Up/Down: Up

    Words of advice for NFL scouts: When J.C. Copeland runs a 40-yard dash, step as far away from him as possible. 

    He loves to run people over. The fullback takes pride in lead blocking and will bulldoze anybody who steps in his way. 

    Backup fullback Connor Neighbors began to take away Copeland's snaps this season; however, he became more valuable as a short-yardage back and receiver.

    He was named MVP of the Collegiate Bowl for his two-touchdown performance. He proved he could do a little bit of everything as a fullback in front of pro scouts.  

    Copeland isn't the quickest, but expect him to challenge offensive linemen in number of bench-press reps at the NFL combine.  

Alfred Blue, Running Back

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.58

    Bench-Press Reps: 19

    Stock Up/Down: Down  

    Despite earning an extra year of eligibility, Alfred Blue decided to declare for the NFL draft after an average 2013. 

    His 4.8 yards per carry might look impressive, but his numbers were accumulated against average opposition or in garbage time. He rarely got carries on meaningful snaps and struggled to make defenders miss.

    LSU did hit gold with Blue as a special teamer. He was a superb tackler on kickoff and punt teams.

    His tape is not all that impressive. He will need to turn heads in Indianapolis with a great session in the drills.

    Blue will get bombarded with questions from NFL personnel about his past comments about homosexuals playing football, especially after Michael Sam's groundbreaking announcement. Blue will hopefully have learned from the furor over his past comments.

Anthony Johnson, Defensive Tackle

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 5.01

    Bench-Press Reps: 28

    Stock Up/Down: Neutral 

    Anthony Johnson's junior season was a disappointment for LSU. Despite playing below expectations, he decided to skip out on his senior year and enter the NFL draft. 

    He has the measurables to be a star at the next level. He has great explosiveness off the snap and has shown flashes of being an elite pass-rusher. 

    Questions will come in a wide variety for Johnson. Scouts will ask why his play was subpar in 2013. He could silence all the critics if he shows up to Indianapolis in top shape. 

Ego Ferguson, Defensive Tackle

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 5.1

    Bench-Press Reps: 30

    Stock Up/Down: Neutral 

    Ego Ferguson did not receive the same amount of fanfare as fellow defensive tackle Anthony Johnson. But he was a more consistent performer than the "Freak." 

    He is more nimble, making him a better pass-rusher. But he also outperformed Johnson against the run. He was superb at shedding blocks at the line of scrimmage and making tackles. 

    Endurance was an issue for Ferguson, as LSU's depth at defensive tackle was not as strong as in years past. He faded at the end of most games.

    Ferguson has prototypical size for an NFL defensive tackle. If he tests well at the combine, an NFL franchise will take a chance on him a little higher than what most scouts will grade him.

Lamin Barrow, Linebacker

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.76

    Bench-Press Reps: 23

    Stock Up/Down: Down 

    Lamin Barrow faded in 2013 after his great junior season alongside Kevin Minter. But Barrow finished strong in 2014. 

    He had to get used to playing with a new middle linebacker in D.J. Welter. The senior still led the Tigers in tackles with 91—11 more than the next highest defender. 

    Speed will be a major hurdle for Barrow. He looked sluggish at times during the season, leaving some to question his sideline-to-sideline athleticism. Scouts will focus in on his 40-yard dash time and three-cone drill.  

    Scouts will be impressed with his football IQ and work ethic. He received No. 18 before the season, which is a sacred jersey in Baton Rouge.  

Craig Loston, Safety

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Predictions

    40-Yard Dash: 4.59

    Bench-Press Reps: 23

    Stock Up/Down: Neutral 

    Craig Loston was a good but not great player at LSU. He was a fearless hitter who had amazing range when defending the run. 

    Quarterbacks would, at times, pick on him through the air. He was serviceable at best in coverage, yet his interception in the Senior Bowl opened some eyes. 

    Loston was spectacular on special teams, which could land him a roster spot in the NFL. He will post great numbers at the combine. His size and speed combination will intrigue NFL scouts. 

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