Michael Brockers (Sophomore, LSU) is a beast of a defensive tackle. I don’t think he’s a very good pass rusher, but at 6’6”, 306 pounds he has the potential to be a great run defender and I think he could develop into a better pass rusher as he gains more experience. This season he has 14 total tackles (8 solo), 3.5 TFL, one sack and one interception in the first four games. I have been consistently impressed with his hand usage, his ability to shed blocks, and the sheer strength and size that he has in the trenches. The scary thing is his frame isn’t even filled out, and I think he could carry 315-320 pounds very easily given his great size. I think Brockers has a ton of potential, and he is still very young. I’m excited to see how he develops over the rest of this season and during his junior year after that. Keep an eye on him.
Bennie Logan (Sophomore, LSU) is a talented DT who usually starts with Brockers at the beginning of the game. He has pretty good size at about 6’3”, 287 pounds and he showed the ability to drive his man into the backfield. It’ll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the year, but he has 14 total tackles (6 solo), 3.0 TFL, one sack and one pass break-up through four games. He has some upside thanks to his size and continues to demonstrate pretty good hand usage. Like Brockers he hasn’t shown me the ability to consistently apply pressure on the passer, so I will be watching to see if that starts to come as he progresses.
Josh Downs (Junior, LSU) is the #3 or #4 DT in LSU’s rotation, but I think he has some sleeper potential even though he isn’t a starter. He doesn’t have the same raw upside and potential as Brockers and Anthony Johnson do, but at 6’1”, 287 he has proven to be very disruptive every time he is in the game. He won’t be any higher than a mid-round pick, especially since he doesn’t have ideal measurables, but he has the potential to get drafted late and make a roster as a rotational player. He is quick off the ball, has good hand usage, and has a squatty build that enables him to get under the pads of offensive linemen and drive them into the backfield. He has consistently beaten one on one blocks this year, and even though it doesn’t show on the stat sheet he has had a significant impact in each game, especially against Oregon. He was too quick and too strong even at his size for their offensive linemen, and was consistently in the backfield in this game. So even if he doesn’t show up as a guy who’s making plays on the stat sheet, just know that he has been consistently disruptive when he plays. Keep an eye on him as a sleeper for the 2013 Draft as a senior.
Anthony Johnson (Freshman, LSU) is a potential stud DT. He’s a freshman this year but he is already 6’3”, 310 pounds and he was rumored to run a 4.8 40 yard dash. That is absolutely insane if it is even relatively close to being true. He has four total tackles (2 solo), 2.5 TFL and one sack. He showed the ability to be disruptive and to penetrate, and seemed to have pretty strong hands and at least solid hand usage given his relatively limited experience. Some around the LSU program have said he could be the next Glenn Dorsey which is obviously an incredible compliment given his productivity during his time at LSU, so he is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on. All signs point to him having incredible potential, and it seems he has a relatively good chance of living up to it.
Kendrick Adams (Senior, LSU) has some upside as a defensive end, but I haven’t been very impressed with him from a pass rushing standpoint. He only has three career sacks (he has already matched his production as a junior from last season with 1.5 sacks in four games) and he has 2.5 TFL’s thus far this year. He has good size for a defensive end, listed at 6’5”, 260 pounds, but I don’t think he has very good burst off the line of scrimmage and I don’t think he has very good edge speed. He’s pretty solid against the run though, and I think he is a fundamentally sound player. It will be interesting to see if he progresses from a pass rush standpoint throughout the season, but as of right now I think he is a contributing factor to why LSU doesn’t apply a lot of pressure with their front four.
Barkevious Mingo (Sophomore, LSU) is a freak athlete for a defensive end. He allegedly runs a 4.5 forty yard dash despite being listed at 6’5”, 240 pounds. He looks very skinny on film, but he’s extremely athletic. He has great burst off the line of scrimmage and has a lot of edge speed. He’s too skinny to absorb contact and continue to get the edge, but if he gets stronger and fills out his frame I think he could develop into a very dangerous pass rusher. Right now he is a one dimensional speed rusher, but he has so much athletic ability and such a good motor that I think as he continues to develop and mature as a defender that he could become something very special. I just hope he gets quality coaching to improve his hand usage and pass rush moves over the next two years.
Lavar Edwards (Junior, LSU) is a defensive end that usually plays opposite Kendrick Adams. He has solid edge speed and plays the run pretty effectively as well, but also has a quality motor. He pursues very well from the backside and never seems to give up on a play. He also appears to be a good tackler and a solid run defender. I’m not sure how much upside he has, but his motor and hustle stuck out to me.
Ryan Baker (Senior, LSU) is an undersized linebacker prospect that warrants late round consideration in my opinion. He’s a reliable tackler when he can play downhill, and has solid instincts, but I was very unimpressed with his motor and that really bothered me when I noticed that. As a linebacker his job is to read, react and if the play is away from him he has to pursue and clean up the play from the backside should it be necessary. But far too often he would just stop running and stand there, not even jog in the direction of the play, and wait for his teammates to clean up the mess. On a defense as talented and fast as LSU’s it’s not very obvious, but I’ve seen it multiple times including in this Oregon game. He has some upside because he’s a good tackler, but he’s not a well-rounded linebacker in my opinion and his lack of size and hustle concern me.
Morris Claiborne (Junior, LSU) has been incredibly impressive this year. He is the #1 corner on what may be the best secondary in the entire country, and he played very well against Oregon as well as the other games I saw him in. He is a better tackler than I expected him to be, but he also looked very comfortable in man and zone coverage. He showed very fluid hips, the ability to turn and run effectively, good closing speed, and impressive ball skills. He supports the run better than I expected him to, and while I have seen him miss a few tackles I still think he is an above-average/solid tackler, which is more than you can say for a lot of corners. Add in his size at 6’0”, 185 pounds, his speed and burst as well as his versatility to return kick-offs and interceptions effectively and with good vision and you’ve got a heck of a NFL Draft prospect. He’s not under the radar anymore, but keep an eye on him anyway.
Tyrann Mathieu (Sophomore, LSU) is without a doubt my favorite player in the entirety of college football. When you see him walk onto the field as a nickel corner (when they play Simon on the outside to let Mathieu’s versatility shine) you don’t expect him to be the best player on the field, but so many times he is. In all my years of watching football I have rarely seen anyone with the kind of ball-hawking ability that Mathieu has. He is always around the ball, he has fantastic instincts, he’s extremely fast with a great burst, he is fearless, he’s a great tackler, he is very effective in run support, he’s a great blitzer off the edge, he packs a pop as a hitter and simply has an unexplainable knack for forcing turnovers, whether they be fumbles (like when he tackled Kenjon Barner on a punt return, forced a fumble, recovered it and scored a touchdown after a short return) or interceptions. He has fantastic ball skills and he reads the eyes of quarterbacks very effectively. I think he has top ten talent and the only knock you can possibly have on him is his lack of size. He’s listed at 5’9”, 175 pounds which means he may be about 5’8”, but if he was two or three inches taller playing the way he was he would be getting mentioned as a possible top five pick much like his mentor Patrick Peterson was (and I think Mathieu is a better playmaker). Mathieu also returns punts and while he will try to do too much at times, he’s also very elusive and makes a lot of guys miss when he has a chance to get into space. I will have a scouting report up on Mathieu soon, but as one of the people who has been driving the Mathieu bandwagon since last season when he was only a freshman I would like to encourage everyone to hop on board, because this kid is the definition of special.
Tharold Simon (Sophomore, LSU) is a very intriguing corner because he just has so much length. He is listed at 6’3”, 187 pounds but doesn’t seem to have stiff hips nor does he seem to have much trouble turning and running with receivers. On top of that, he has very long arms which he uses effectively in pass coverage (4 pass break-ups in his first four games as well as an interception and 24 tackles, 20 of which are solo). He also packs a pop as a hitter and seems to be an effective tackler. When he did get beat in the Oregon game he laid a great hit on the receiver as he attempted to bring the ball in and separated the ball from the receiver. His size may make people consider transitioning him to safety at some point, but if he has the footwork, the hips and the fluidity in his transitions to stick at corner it would be advisable to leave him there. His height, length and athleticism will make him an absolute pain in the ass to throw against as he develops, especially if you match him up with a big possession receiver.
Brandon Taylor (Senior, LSU) has some potential as a safety, but I have noticed that he’s been having some problems tackling that I have noticed. He doesn’t break down effectively, and he often gets “juked” by running backs and receivers. He’s not an awful tackler, but I definitely noticed a number of instances where he blew tackles. I haven’t been able to grade him much in coverage because of ESPN’s camera angles, so that will have to wait.
Brad Wing (Freshman, LSU) is a punter, and I know it’s weird to feature a punter in a NFL Draft post, but I think this kid is going to be a very good one. I thought this after the Oregon game as well, but against West Virginia he had an unreal game pinning the Mountaineers back inside the five yard line three times and inside the 10 yard line four times that I can remember off of the top of my head. Obviously that was a great game for him, but I think he has a bright future as a punter and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on when it comes to Ray Guy candidates in the future (the Ray Guy award is given to the top punter in the country).
Michael Clay (Junior) is an undersized linebacker on Oregon. He’s listed at 5’11”, 225 pounds but I thought he looked like he was 235 or 240 on film. Maybe that’s just me, but he looks big for his size. He seems to be an effective tackler, but the play that stuck out the most to me was when he absolutely lit up #80, a receiver on LSU, on a drag route on 3rd down. He hit him so hard he completely dislodged the football as it got there, forcing an incompletion. He’s one to watch because he seemed to be a quality run defender and he obviously can lay the boom in pass coverage, so it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop.
Anthony Gildon (Senior) is a cornerback on Oregon that impressed me quite a bit in this game. I had never seen him play before, but he was effective in coverage against LSU’s big, fast receivers. He has never gotten an abundance of playing time from what I can tell, but he has good size for a corner at 6’1”, 185 pounds and looked like he had fluid hips, good footwork and he seemed to run well with receivers downfield. He located the ball in the air pretty consistently, and had two big pass break-ups on deep balls when LSU was clearly targeting him as they expected him to be the weak-link of the secondary. There was one more play where he was credited with making a play on the ball but in reality he didn’t turn his head around and could have been called for a penalty in my opinion. I think he has upside though, so I’m going to keep tabs on him. I could see him getting invited to the East-West Shrine Game and becoming a mid-late round pick at this point. We’ll see what happens, but my initial impression of him was definitely positive.
Hopefully you enjoyed my notes on some of the defensive prospects that participated in the LSU-Oregon game. Obviously I don’t have any notes on Cliff Harris because he was suspended for this game, but I’m sure I will be able to give my thoughts on him later this year. Thanks for reading!