The five former LSU players expected to get drafted were, in fact, selected by the time the NFL draft ended Saturday evening.
That’s where the normalcy ends.
The one player who left the Tigers early for the draft — tackle Jerald Hawkins — went well before the two, four-year starting seniors. The Steelers picked Hawkins with the 25th pick in the fourth round (123rd overall).
Offensive lineman Vadal Alexander and defensive back Jalen Mills were chosen in back-to-back selections — in the seventh round. Those two players started a combined 92 of a possible 102 games in their LSU careers and were projected to be off the board well before the time the fifth round arrived.
We’ll get to that later.
The Tigers’ five draftees were tied for third-most in the Southeastern Conference with three other schools (Ole Miss, Arkansas and Georgia) and behind the seven drafted players from Alabama and Florida.
The stunner during this draft week: For the second consecutive year, LSU’s had only two guys selected in the first four rounds — something that hasn’t happened since 2000-01.
What’s this all mean?!
Don’t think too negative, but don’t think too positive either.
LSU has won 17 games over the past two seasons — tied for the fewest wins in a two-year span in coach Les Miles’ 11 years. At the same time, three of the top four potential LSU draft prospects did not enter the draft.
Linebacker Kendell Beckwith, offensive lineman Ethan Pocic and cornerback Tre’Davious White all remained in school for their senior years. White received a late-first- to early second-round grade, he said in January. Beckwith and Pocic was a second- to third-round projection, they said.
Let’s get back to Alexander and Mills. Some projected them as high as second-round picks. But they tumbled all the way into the final round.
The Eagles took Mills with the 12th pick of the seventh round, and the Raiders took Alexander with the next selection. They represented the 233rd and 234th picks of a draft that included 253 selections.
Some might say they took the biggest tumbles of any prospects in this year’s draft, and everyone’s searching for reasons behind the falls.
Signs point to off-the-field issues for both.
Mills was charged with simple battery in August of 2014 for allegedly punching a woman earlier that summer. Mills was sent through the court’s pretrial diversion program, according to court records, and his charge was dismissed Dec. 4.
The police report — which, surely, every NFL team read — remains in court records.
According to a warrant, the woman needed four stitches to close a gash on her lip following an alleged altercation with Mills after she knocked on Mills’ door looking for a friend. A witness corroborated the victim’s story, and both picked Mills out of a photo lineup.
On the field, Mills was what many scouts refer to as a “tweener” — a guy who teams don’t feel sure about at one specific position. For Mills, it was safety/cornerback. He played both at LSU.
As for Alexander, the 320-pounder underwent a back procedure in the spring of 2014, months before his junior season. Alexander and his parents told The Advocate last week that he was not flagged, regarding the back, during the NFL draft process.
NFL teams have each player’s medical history and records. Could that be behind Alexander’s fall? He doesn’t know, he told Raiders.com. Even he is searching for answers during a peculiar draft week.
“I’m surprised I lasted this long,” he told the website. “It’s something I wasn’t expecting, but God has a plan. I’m a firm believer in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Everything happens for a reason in my mind, but I absolutely am surprised I lasted this long.”