Thursday, April 26, 2012

LSU continues to churn out NFL-ready prospects

image Many eyes are on the Alabama Crimson Tide in this weekend’s NFL Draft. But LSU is as poised as any team in the Southeastern Conference to send its traditional boatload of top players to suit up on Sundays. Les Miles’ Tigers could see as many as seven players taken overall, with (likely) two going in the first round.

Cornerback Morris Claiborne is a likely top 10 pick, with many mock drafts putting him in Tampa Bay with the No. 5 overall. Defensive Tackle Michael Brockers is also projected as a first rounder in many mocks. Wideout Reuben Randle might also sneak up into the first round if Cleveland thinks adding a pair of sure hands to Colt McCoy’s arsenal makes sense.

Since Miles took over the program in 2005, the seven ensuing drafts have seen 37 players selected. The 2010 draft was the only one in which LSU failed to put a player in the first round.

There have been some noteworthy busts—Jamarcus Russell being the most famous flameout. But by and large, LSU veterans have become reliable producers on the teams that signed them.

Like many states in the southeastern US, Louisiana is rich recruiting territory. LSU is the only real big boy program in the state and routinely gets its pick of the top talent that the state has to offer. Rarely does a competitor steal a top drawer recruit from Miles.

Nick Saban built a fence around the state when he took over for Gerry DiNardo in 2000. Miles has not only maintained that fence, he’s fortified it.

It shows.

Miles takes legitimate criticism for his unparalleled ability to lay an egg in a big game. None stand out more than the 2012 BCS Championship. But he has two SEC titles and a national title, and Miles excels in all the other things that coaches are supposed to do. His kids (largely) stay out of trouble. They stay in school. They develop into very good football players and go on to make beau coop bucks in the NFL.

Sunday football games are dotted with former LSU standouts, including Patrick Peterson, Joseph Addai, Brandon LaFell and Chad Jones. From tonight through Saturday evening, a half dozen or more fellow Tigers will be selected and if history is any indication, they’ll be stars.

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