As former LSU linebacker Patrick Queen got drafted by the Baltimore Ravens late Thursday night, K'Lavon Chaisson held his first professional press conference. He flipped his head toward the television in his living room. He screamed and laughed.
“Hey,” Chaisson said. “Hey, my boy Pat just got picked up. OK. We cuttin’ up, man.”
Sitting in an expansive living room, Chaisson wore a Jacksonville Jaguars hat. The former LSU outside linebacker had gone in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the No. 20 overall selection. The interview stopped as Chaisson watched his college teammate. Chaisson smiled.
Two hours and 19 selections after quarterback Joe Burrow went first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, his LSU teammates began falling off the board Thursday night, filling the back end of the first round.
From Ohio, Joe Burrow descended to Louisiana. To Ohio he has returned.
Though Burrow dominated the evening, LSU entered with a chance to tie the all-time record of six selections from one school in the first round. The Tigers ended with five draftees, breaking the LSU and Southeastern Conference records.
LSU joined Ohio State (2016 and 2006), Miami (2002) and Southern Cal (1968) as the fourth school in college football history to have five players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The Jaguars took Chaisson with at No. 20, and a few minutes later, the Minnesota Vikings selected wide receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 22 overall. Almost an hour passed until Queen was taken with the No. 28 pick. And then, with the final pick of the first round, the Kansas City Chiefs took running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
“We all came a long way,” Jefferson said.
With the draft held virtually because of the coronavirus, the players watched from their homes alongside friends and family. They smiled as they received phone calls. They clapped for their teammates. They became professional football players.
After Burrow, hours passed until Chaisson heard from the Jaguars. The Tigers’ best pass rusher last season, Chaisson recorded 60 tackles, 13½ tackles for loss and 6½ sacks as LSU won the national championship. He created pressure on 13 percent of snaps, leading the team.
Joe Burrow’s high school named its football stadium for him, the classic small-town hero made good.
Chaisson had suffered a season-ending knee injury the first game of his sophomore year, but he returned to become the leader of LSU’s defense. Chaisson always spoke his mind and shared his beliefs. He received the jersey No. 18 despite making four career starts before last season.
Though injuries limited Chaisson the first quarter of the schedule, the third-year sophomore played his best in LSU’s most important games. Chaisson tackled Florida quarterback Kyle Trask on fourth-and-goal to seal a win, recorded a career-high 10 tackles and 3½ tackles for loss against Alabama and notched two sacks in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Two picks later, Jefferson went to the Vikings. When Jefferson, a former two-star recruit once mistaken for a walk-on, got the call, he stood up to shake hands with his brothers. Jefferson hugged his parents, and the family danced in their living room. Jefferson felt his heart pounding.
“Words cannot describe the feeling,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson put together one of the greatest seasons by a wide receiver in LSU history as a junior. Playing primarily out of the slot, Jefferson compiled a school-record 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Jefferson’s ascent began his sophomore year. He established himself as Burrow’s favorite target, leading LSU in receptions, yards and touchdowns. When LSU’s offense exploded last fall, so did Jefferson.
The third of three brothers to play at LSU, Jefferson led the SEC in receptions. He ranked second in yards and touchdowns, trailing only sophomore teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
During the CFP Semifinal, Jefferson set records for receptions (14), receiving yards (227) and touchdowns receiving (four), then Jefferson eclipsed 100 yards receiving in the national championship. In LSU’s three postseason games, Jefferson gathered 30 receptions for 448 yards and five touchdowns.
Queen waited for hours. He watched from home, where signs spelling “Congrats Patrick Queen, NFL Bound” filled the yard, and a cutout of LSU coach Ed Orgeron from a Raising Cane’s commercial stood in the back of the living room.
It nearly went unnoticed, but Joe Burrow was representing both Athens County, Ohio and Baton Rouge with his 2020 NFL Draft outfit on Thursday.
Queen began his junior season in a fight for playing time, but by the second half of the schedule, he had become one of the Tigers’ best defensive players, launching himself into the first round of the draft.
Showcasing elite speed — Queen ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — Queen made 85 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and three sacks his junior year. He received defensive MVP of the national championship game.
The first night of the draft had almost ended when Edwards-Helaire was selected with the 32nd pick. The first running back taken in the draft, Edwards-Helaire leaped over other players projected to go ahead of him.
A running back capable of catching passes out of the backfield, Edwards-Helaire eclipsed 100 total yards in nine of LSU's games last season. Edwards-Helaire scored 16 rushing touchdowns, leading the SEC. He also caught one touchdown.
Alabama and LSU and a handful of other Southeastern Conference schools teamed up to break a pair of their own records at the 2020 NFL Draft.
Edwards-Helaire finished the season with 1,414 yards rushing, third-most in school history behind Charles Alexander and Leonard Fournette. On the road against Alabama, Edwards-Helaire scored four touchdowns. Orgeron called it one of the best games he has ever witnessed by a running back.
“He’s a three-down back,” Orgeron said. “No question.”
LSU didn’t break the record for first-round picks, set by Miami in 2004, but it may set a record for overall selections (14). The Tigers entered the draft with more than a dozen prospects, and as the draft continues Friday, many of them remain on the board.
But for the five selected, the night served as validation of their talent and accomplishments. They became first-round draft picks. And they celebrated for one another. When Jefferson was selected, Queen stood up from the couch. He pumped his fist and smiled. Then he waited for his turn.