Ed Orgeron lost sleep trying to convince K’Lavon Chaisson to come to LSU, showing up at 4 a.m. on his Houston doorstep as Chaisson was about to head to the airport for a recruiting trip to Florida.
Orgeron is probably losing sleep now trying to figure out how to replace Chaisson’s 6½ sacks and 13½ tackles for loss from last season (both team highs), a night terror he can at least share with new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.
Ed Orgeron wished he was spending Thursday night in Las Vegas, but as NFL teams make selections virtually to meet social distancing guidelines, Orgeron still thinks the draft can let LSU shine, boosting the Tigers’ recruiting efforts.
But Chaisson is on the doorstep of his NFL career now, having proven finally after an injury-obliterated 2018 season that he was the player Orgeron believed he could be.
Everyone with a brain of course pencils in former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow as the No. 1 overall pick. If the Cincinnati Bengals have a collective brain trust, they won’t be trading that pick away but will double down on native Ohioan Burrow and make the Heisman Trophy winner the cornerstone of their much-needed rebuilding process.
When you sift through the mock drafts, though, the next LSU name you typically come across is Chaisson’s. Three of four projections on NFL.com Thursday had him going with the 17th overall pick to the Dallas Cowboys, as does SI.com (down one spot from last week) and the website WalterFootball.com. The Sporting News had Chaisson last week with the 23rd pick to the New England Patriots but this week has rocketed him all the way up to No. 16 to the Atlanta Falcons. That’s good news for Chaisson, but a possibility that has the stomach of every LSU/Saints fan churning at the thought of yet another star former Tiger becoming a member of the much-loathed Dirty Birds.
That’s a lot of confidence people have in Chaisson. He doesn’t lack for confidence in himself to be a high-caliber NFL edge rusher.
“I’m going to be honest,” he said in February at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, “I’m actually the most valuable player in this draft and we all know that.
“When you hire somebody, do you want to hire someone who speaks one language? Or do you want to hire somebody that speaks three languages? I speak three languages. I can pass rush, drop in coverage and cover anybody you want me to cover, and I can play the run. No offensive lineman will ever just move me off the ball and bully me.”
The program that put together the greatest season in college football history may be on the doorstep of making NFL draft history.
The Cowboys’ defensive needs paint a compelling picture of why he may be THE choice for them at No. 17. Dallas lost free agent outside linebacker Robert Quinn and his 11½ sacks to the Chicago Bears this offseason. Also gone from Big D is defensive tackle Maliek Quinn to the Las Vegas Raiders (still looks strange to type that) who had 48 quarterback pressures in 2019.
CBS Sports draft analyst Ryan Wilson told the Dallas Morning News recently it makes perfect sense for the Cowboys to use their mid first-round pick on Chaisson.
“I love him at 17,” Wilson said. “He’s a young edge rusher in terms (of) he hasn’t been doing it a long time. He’s going to get better. He’s explosive but he’s not consistent, and I think that’s OK. He’s going to be a good player.”
Chaisson showed flashes of greatness early in his LSU career. In 2017, he became juts the eighth true freshman since 2000 to start a season opener for the Tigers, taking the first snaps against BYU in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He finished that season with 27 tackles including two sacks and 4½ TFLs before being labeled a “can’t-miss” star for 2018.
Unfortunately for Chaisson, virtually the entire season turned out to be a miss. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of LSU’s 2018 opener against Miami — coincidentally at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium — after recording five tackles with a sack just before he went down.
Eight former LSU football players will take part in the NFL draft broadcast on April 23-25, the NFL announced on Thursday.
Fully recovered in 2019, Chaisson earned the coveted No. 18 on defense (center Lloyd Cushenberry also got No. 18 but couldn’t wear it in games because of numbering rules for offensive linemen) for his leadership and the respect he earned from his peers.
Chaisson argued that while his career numbers weren’t eye-grabbing, he was a presence that had to be accounted for on every snap.
“Every game you watch, I’m making production,” he said. “My impact is being felt. Even if I’m not getting sacks, (consider) my pressures and hurries. I’m always in the quarterback’s face.”
Chaisson was only credited with six quarterback hurries in 15 games, but the potential is certainly vast. Just imagine a latter-day Danielle Hunter, who had underwhelming numbers at LSU but has evolved into two-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
Joe Burrow's most impossible task dropped on his doorstep almost a week ago: an unassembled package of tripods, of iPads, of wires.
That could easily be Chaisson one day. And that’s why it hard to imagine teams will let him drift out of the teens next Thursday night before snapping him up.