NFL Draft 2011: Breaking Down LSU's Top 10 Prospects
As usual, the LSU Tigers have produced a large number of NFL-caliber players who have entered into the 2011 NFL draft.
And once again, LSU has a player who is projected as a top pick, as well as players who are projected to be drafted throughout the seven rounds.
LSU draft picks, with the exception of one notable first-round quarterback, typically translate well into the NFL game and have lengthy and productive careers.
Tiger players in the 2011 draft should be no exception to that trend.
Here are the players I think will be LSU’s top prospects for the NFL in 2011.
10: Jai Eugene – Defensive Back
A three-year player for the Tigers, Eugene was a serviceable backup in the secondary.
On most other teams he would have been a starter, but LSU’s tremendous talent at the cornerback position reduced his role to a nickel defender and special team contributor.
Because he is a relative unknown nationally, Eugene will probably go undrafted or be a late draft pick, but regardless of his draft position, he should make an NFL roster and contribute as a backup or special-teams specialist.
9: Richard Murphy – Running Back
Another three-year contributor to the Tiger football team, Murphy saw most of his action at running back, but also contributed to the special teams.
Murphy will be a steal for any team that drafts him in the later rounds. The NFL has become a game in which depth at running back is necessary and where players deep on the depth chart are expected to contribute to the special teams.
8: Lazarius Levingston – Defensive End
In any other season, Levingston would be considered a second- to fourth-round draft pick.
However, in a draft that is absolutely loaded with talented defensive linemen, Levingston is being overshadowed.
A probable sixth- or seventh-round pick, Levingston will be a great pick for any team that needs depth on their defensive line, and he should have a lengthy career in the NFL.
7: Josh Jasper – Kicker
Jasper was a consensus All-American in 2010 as he led the nation in field goals with 28 and should be drafted in the later rounds of the NFL draft.
Jasper is a crafty player who became a fan favorite at LSU for his involvement in special-teams trick plays, as well as his fiery attitude and toughness.
Jasper was frequently seen making tackles on kickoffs and was never one to shy away from contact.
His high level of accuracy and strong leg should allow him to have a nice NFL career.
6: Stevan Ridley – Running Back
At 5’11” 225 lbs, Ridley has the size necessary to play and be successful in the NFL.
His 4.6 40-yard time is fast enough, although not terribly impressive.
While Ridley will probably never be a featured back in the NFL, he can be a valuable asset for a team that uses multiple backs.
Ridley rushed for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior in 2010 and should be a nice pick in the third to fifth round.
5: Terrance Toliver – Wide Receiver
An underachiever in college mainly due to lack of performance at the quarterback position, Toliver rarely got the opportunity to display his tremendous talent at the wide receiver position.
Toliver is a solid route runner and at 6’4”, 210 pounds, he has the size and speed to be dangerous.
His 4.52 40-yard time will have him on the radar of many NFL teams.
While NFL teams are going to be enamored by the collegiate stats of Julio Jones and A.J. Green, Toliver could end up being the best wide receiver to come out of the 2011 draft.
Look for Toliver to be a late second- or third-round pick.
4: Joseph Barksdale --Tackle
A reliable player with LSU, Barksdale started 39 consecutive games for the Tigers from 2008-2010.
Barksdale, a former right tackle, moved to the left tackle position in 2010 and played remarkably.
In a draft that will feature 20-30 defensive linemen in the early rounds, tackles will be at a premium to keep quarterbacks safe.
A big, strong player, Barksdale should be a mid-fourth to fifth-round pick.
3: Kelvin Sheppard – Linebacker
Rated as one of the top five inside linebackers in the 2011 draft, Sheppard has game speed to match any other linebacker in recent history.
A natural playmaker, Sheppard has the speed and instincts to have a great NFL career.
Teams will probably start looking at Sheppard in the fourth round and by the end of the fifth round, he is a must-pick.
Sheppard will contribute as a linebacker and on special teams.
2: Drake Nevis – Defensive Tackle
Like Lazarius Levingston, Nevis is being overshadowed by the enormous amount of talented defensive linemen in the 2011 NFL draft.
However, Nevis is well known and with question marks with Nick Fairley’s character and commitment, Nevis’ stock is on the rise.
Though to be a late second-round to third-round pick, Nevis is now moving up draft boards and could go early in the second round.
Nevis is a fiery player that goes hard on every play.
He’s a constant disruption to opposing backfields and is as talented as any defensive tackle in the draft.
1: Patrick Peterson – Cornerback
The best football player in the 2011 draft, Peterson could go as early as the No. 1 overall pick.
The Panthers are not giving indication that they will pick Peterson, but the Broncos would have to think hard before picking anyone else at No. 2.
If he slides past Denver, any team from the third to seventh spot could pick him.
It is highly unlikely that he will slide past San Francisco at the No. 7 spot.
Drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Peterson has NFL scouts salivating at the opportunity to have him in their franchise.