Five LSU Tigers NFL Draft Prospects to watch in the Citrus Bowl

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Consistently one of the top college football powerhouses in the country every year, the LSU Tigers send several talented athletes to the NFL each April. The 2018 draft (full mock available at this link) looks to be no different, as a number of Louisiana State prospects are projected to be taken by an NFL team in the first three rounds.

Here’s a quick look at your top five LSU Tigers projected to go pro this spring. Keep an eye on them in the Citrus Bowl today versus Notre Dame (full game preview available at this link).

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  • Derrius Guice

After a phenomenal sophomore season that initially set him apart, star running back Derrius Guice will be entering this year’s draft.  Even with workhorse back Leonard Fournette on the field, Guice still managed to put up 1,387 rushing yards.

He may not have had quite as eye-catching a junior year by the numbers, but Guice is still far and away one of the best running backs – and athletes – of this class. The quality that sets him apart so much is his ability to “run angry.”

On his collegiate career, 1,636 of his 2,983 total rushing yards have come after initial contact, per Pro Football Focus. At 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds, Guice has an unprecedented amount of strength and agility for a back his size. Expect this rare talent to be taken early on Day 1.

Projection: First round

  • DJ Chark

One of the LSU Tigers biggest offensive weapons this season has been DJ Chark. He’s a deep threat, with 14 total receptions traveling at least 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, per PFF. The 6-foot-3, 187 pounder also had six receptions for 40 yards or more.

Chark has huge upside, and the fact he’s been incredibly productive at the college level despite “historically bad quarterback play” has caused respected draft analysts like Mel Kiper to believe he’ll be even better at the pro level.

Heading into the Citrus Bowl, Chark has racked up 35 receptions for 811 yards, averaging 23.2 yards per catch. Chark is expected to go in the third round, but could easily slide into the second depending upon how he fares between now and April.

Projection: Third round

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  • Arden Key

Though Arden Key will not be playing Monday due to a pinky finger injury that’s kept him sidelined for two games, he’s still one of the most important prospects in this year’s draft. Key may have been MIA in the spring, as well as portions of this season, but it hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most dominant players in college football.

At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds Key has size, speed and athleticism. Despite appearing in only eight games this season, Key still managed 33 total tackles, 5.5 for a loss. He also recorded four sacks. While his long absence may cause leeriness for some teams, his ability to be a superior edge rusher at the next level absolutely prevents him from falling to the second round.

Projection: First round

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  • Donte Jackson

At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, cornerback Donte Jackson isn’t necessarily the ideal size for the position that he plays. But he more than makes up for it with his quickness. Per PFF, Jackson has only allowed for 29 receptions on 54 throws into his coverage this year with 11 total passes defensed. The biggest issue scouts seem to find with Jackson is his discipline, so he’ll need to do some adjusting in order to find success in the NFL.

We don’t see him falling past round two.

Projection: Second round

  • Will Clapp

Offensive linemen tend to get overlooked when analyzing draft prospects, but center Will Clapp is not a guy you pass over. In 2016, Clapp only allowed two hits on his quarterback and didn’t allow even one sack. This year, Clapp allowed for one sack, but not one hit.

Perhaps the only thing that keeps Clapp out of the running for Day 1 is his injury history, which may make NFL teams wary. While Clapp will likely be drafted in the third round, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see him go in the late second.

Projection: Third round

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Other LSU Tigers who may find an NFL home this year include defensive tackle Greg Gilmore, defensive back Ed Paris, linebacker Donnie Alexander, fullback J.D. Moore, defensive end Christian LaCouture, cornerback Kevin Toliver and tight end Foster Moreau. All will be present when the LSU Tigers take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Orlando at noon central.

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