Analysis: LSU’s top 2018 NFL Draft candidates

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Derrius Guice
LSU running back Derrius Guice may be a high NFL draft choice after his junior season (Photo: Stephen Lew).

Several LSU players will be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. It would be an oddity if that were not the case in a given year. Let’s examine this year’s candidates (* denotes underclassman).

Running back Derrius Guice*, 5-11, 215
He filled in for Leonard Fournette in 2016 and played great. Very strong in the lower body, Guice can squat 650 pounds. He will come out early after his junior season with first round ability. He runs with power between the tackles but is also explosive, displaying fine vision and balance. A rare combination of speed, power, and balance, Guice has elite body control through contact. He does show some indecision at times when running lanes are slow to open. Guice grew up in a bad area, his brother was in and out of jail and his father was shot but Guice has managed to navigate his way through turmoil very well.

Fullback J. D. Moore, 6-3, 237
Not many fullbacks go high in the NFL draft, but Moore has a chance to make it at the pro level. He has a solid work ethic which is recognized by teammates. A leader on and off the field, Moore has unfortunately had injury problems. He needs some technique work on his footwork and blocking skills. He tore an ACL in his knee but has come back.

Wide receiver D. J. Chark, 6-2 186
Clark is a deep threat who is expected to be given some rushing plays for the Tigers. He will be dangerous on the jet-sweep. Clark has deep speed as one of the fastest Tigers and also has good length. He did the right thing returning for his senior season after tallying just 26 catches as a junior but will have a bigger role this fall. With LSU’s desire to throw the ball more down the field, Chark will be a prime target. He had a solid career yards-per-catch average (17.9) and with Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre now in the pro ranks, Chark should be the primary receiver for the Tigers. He has had some nagging ankle problems and lacks experience (no catches until his junior season), but D. J. has a lot of upside.

Offensive tackle Toby Weathersby*, 6-5, 293
Toby is an athletic lineman who has played mostly right tackle for LSU. He has long arms and good length with a lot of upside, but he needs this upcoming year of college experience. He has had some ankle problems which cost him four games in 2016. Weathersby also needs more size and strength for the NFL, so scouts will look for that and durability from him.

Offensive guard/Center Will Clapp*, 6-4, 305
Clapp is a versatile big man who has played both offensive guard and center for the Tigers. An All-SEC selection last season, Clapp is a solid run blocker who has opened holes for running backs Guice and Leonard Fournette. Clapp has long arms and good length. He is the quarterback of the LSU offense line and already has plenty of experience. He did have some injury concerns (ankle and had shoulder surgery) but has come back to play at a high level.

Defensive end Arden Key, 6-5 250
Key was one of the best players in college football in 2016. He had 56 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 pass break-ups. A dangerous pass rusher with speed and a quick first step, Key is lightning fast coming off the edge with some pass rush moves as well. A high first round talent on paper, he must show he can bounce back from a shoulder injury and off the field issues. He could miss some playing time this season.

Cornerback Kevin Toliver*, 6-2, 195
Toliver impressed as a freshman and sophomore thrust into action. He is a big corner who can run and provide a physical presence. Toliver has the speed to play the deep ball. He has had some injury problems (shoulder, hyperextended knee) but is a first round talent. Toliver needs to prove he can stay healthy. A hard hitter with a non-stop motor and a solid tackler, he is not really known as a ball hawk but does have man pass cover skills scouts seek.

Cornerback/safety Ed Paris, 6-0, 210
Paris could rise as a senior with Tre’Davious White and Jamal Adams now in the NFL. He is a versatile defensive back who can line up at cornerback, safety and nickel back in the slot. A team player who is very coachable, Paris has nice size for the cornerback position, and his versatility will help his draft position. An experienced senior with football savvy, Paris could rise up draft board with a productive fall for the Tigers.

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