Sixteen LSU players have been invited to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, including all nine players who declared for the NFL Draft before their eligibility had run out, according to the list released by the NFL on Friday afternoon.
No other college has more invitees. The programs with the second-most invitees are Michigan and Ohio State, who both have 11 represent their schools in Indianapolis at the end of the month.
There were 337 collegiate players invited to this year's combine, meaning LSU players make up 4.7% of the invitees.
The 16 players are:
- QB Joe Burrow
- OLB K'Lavon Chaisson
- OL Saahdiq Charles
- OL Lloyd Cushenberry
- S Grant Delpit
- LB Michael Divinity
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- LS Blake Ferguson
- CB Kristian Fulton
- WR Justin Jefferson
- DL Rashard Lawrence
- OL Damien Lewis
- TE Thaddeus Moss
- LB Jacob Phillips
- LB Patrick Queen
- TE Stephen Sullivan
The reigning Heisman winner Joe Burrow is the highest-rated quarterback invited to this year's quarterback, grading at a 7.07, which corresponds to a "Pro Bowl talent" and was compared to Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner in his player analysis.
Last year's Combine didn't have a single player rated higher than 7.0, while this year has six with Ohio State defensive end Chase Young graded at a 7.4 to lead the 2020 prospects.
NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein assessed Burrow, writing: "People's champ with rags-to-riches story arc culminating in one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in sports history. He's self-assured and plays with competitive toughness that teammates will gravitate toward instantly. He's a rhythm passer who benefited from tempo and scheme, but his vision, touch and read recognition made the offense special. He buys time for himself inside the pocket, but creates explosive, off-schedule plays outside of it with his arm or legs.
"He throws with staggering precision and timing, but he recognizes his own arm-strength constraints and is forced to shrink the field accordingly. His 2018 tape and unremarkable physical traits could clutter his evaluation for some, but he appears to be an outlier who simply developed and blossomed beyond those evaluation concerns. He's a smart quarterback with special intangibles and could become a Pro Bowler if a team tailors its offense to his specific strengths and comfort level."
Outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, one of LSU's nine early-draft entrants, is among the highest graded prospects with a grade of 6.88, which corresponds to "Year 1 quality starter" and was compared to former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Aldon Smith.
Chaisson is the second-highest rated linebacker among Combine participants, ranking just behind Clemson threat Isaiah Simmons, who graded in at a 7.1 — "Pro Bowl talent."
Chaisson's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Possessing an impressive diversity of moldable pass-rushing ingredients and moves, Chaisson has begun putting the recipe together to become a game-altering pass rusher. While some long-limbed rushers lack the bend and leverage to maximize their length, his fluidity and agility allow him to dip, corner, change direction and close in tight quarters or with extended range.
"He's not a physical run defender and might be a liability early in his career against power. Chaisson's stock has gained momentum with his surging performance matching the elite athletic qualities. It adds up to an increasingly confident projection as an impact pass-rusher with Pro-Bowl potential."
Offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles, another one of LSU's early-draft entrants, is graded at 6.11, which corresponds to a "good backup who could become a starter."
Charles' overview as written by Zierlein: "Charles is a plus-athlete with good bend and agility but the lack of core strength could linger as a concern early in his career. He needs to play with better snap quickness and body control to help him control both the first and second phases of run blocks. He's not a waist-bender, but he does play too far forward in both run and pass blocking and defenders took advantage of that.
"Charles has a corral mentality in his pass sets even though he shows decent sustain and mirror once he gets locked in. His ability to recover is a big saving grace in his favor right now. He lacks desired tackle size and is still a work in progress, but he has enough traits to warrant consideration as a swing tackle with guard potential."
Center Lloyd Cushenberry, another of LSU's early-draft entrants, was given a grade of 6.30, which corresponds to "will be starter within the first two seasons" and was compared to current Packers center Corey Linsley.
Cushenberry's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Starting-caliber center with big hands, long arms and good core strength to match power on power when needed. Cushenberry isn't rigid or stiff, but he does have some limitations with lateral quickness, which show up against athletic edge rushers and with potential run game limitations in space.
"He's extremely difficult to bull-rush and is rarely beaten to the punch in his pass sets. LSU was frequently tasked with five-man protections in its passing scheme, which put Cushenberry on more of an island than he will see as a pro, so scouts should account for that. He's a do-your-job prospect with the strength to handle an odd-front nose and could be a long-time starter."
Safety Grant Delpit, the reigning Thorpe Award winner, is graded at 6.45, which corresponds to "will be starter within the first two seasons" and was compared to former Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.
He's the third-highest rated safety among Combine participants, coming in behind Alabama's Xavier McKinney and Minnesota's Antoine Winfield Jr.
Delpit's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Aggressive, urgent striker with good upside who posted a disappointing follow-up to an exciting 2018 campaign. His evaluation requires a full load of 2018 tape, where his coverage potential was better illustrated. He transitions with instinctive eyes and plays physically against tight ends. Willingness to rush in and hit has never been a problem in the alley or in his fits, but tackle inconsistencies have plagued him throughout his career due to angles and technique that could be challenging to fix.
"LSU sources say NFL teams won't be getting the alpha leadership Jamal Adams provided for the Tigers, but Delpit should find a starting role early in his career as a versatile safety with big nickel potential."
Linebacker Michael Divinity was given a grade of 5.50, which corresponds to "(has a) chance to make end of roster or practice squad."
Divinity's overview, as written by Zierlein: "While Divinity has played inside linebacker (2019) and 3-4 rush linebacker (2018), teams will need to determine whether he is able to be flexed around the alignment or whether he needs to fine-tune a single position. Instincts and recognition are clearly an issue inside and will need time to develop. He has length but lacks overall size as an NFL edge rusher. His athleticism and pass-rush talent are nothing special. Teams will have to examine his character as they determine if he's worthy of a backup or practice-squad role."
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, one of LSU's early entrants for the draft, was given a prospect grade of 6.42, which corresponds to "will be a starter within the first two seasons" and was compared to Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
Edwards-Helaire is graded as the fourth-best running back prospect at the combine, with Georgia running back D'Andre Swift leading the pack with a 6.8 — "Year 1 quality starter."
Edwards-Helaire's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Compact, sudden back who runs low to the ground with power and balance to break tackles and the agility to bob, weave and shake them in tight quarters. Edwards-Helaire runs with instinctive eyes and quick-cut foot speed. He doesn't really have tells or tendencies and can alter the rush track when needed, which makes him so unpredictable for defenses. While he can create for himself, he's better off working inside-out as NFL linebackers might be able to outflank him on pure outside runs. He has pop behind his pads but lacks short-yardage size. He has the talent to become a good, three-down back in time, but needs to improve in pass protection."
Long snapper Blake Ferguson was one of two long snappers invited to the combine this year, and was given a grade of 5.80, which is the same as the other long snapper — Iowa State's Steven Wirtel.
Ferguson's overview, as written by Zierlein: "One of the top long-snappers in the country, Ferguson has a great shot at following his brother into the pros. His snap accuracy on punts was a little down from 2018, but it's not something that will kill his chances. He's the likely leader in the clubhouse as the long-snapper most likely to be drafted (and make a team long-term) this season."
Cornerback Kristian Fulton was given a grade of 6.29, which corresponds to "good backup who could become a starter" and was compared to Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson.
Fulton's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Press-man cornerback whose 40 percent rate of completion as an LSU Tiger may not tell the entire story as an NFL prospect. Fulton has good size and is usually searching to make plays on the football. He plays with decent eye balance in off-coverage but can be a tad late with response time.
"Once he gets behind he tends to stay behind against multi-breaking routes and his long speed and recovery burst are below average. Fulton showed improvement throughout the year, but his confidence has been an issue at times. When the pros and cons are balanced, he appears to be a good backup with a chance to work up the ladder."
Wide receiver Justin Jefferson, one of LSU's early draft entrants, was given a grade of 6.41, which corresponds to "will be starter within the first two seasons."
In a stacked wide receivers class, Jefferson is graded as the seventh-best wideout. The top-rated receivers are Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb and Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, who both were graded at 6.9 — "Year 1 quality starter."
Jefferson's overview, as written by Zierlein: A quarterback's best friend, with the contested-catch focus and extreme ball skills to boost completion percentages. Jefferson failed to stand out as an outside target but saw his stock soar with a monster season from the slot. He has decent speed and separation talent, but he needs to improve as a route-runner, as he's less likely to see the same freedom in space that LSU's offense helped create for him.
"He's slippery in space and able to stab and save throws with quick hands and fluid body adjustments. Teams looking for an inside/outside possession receiver with the size and savvy to make chain-moving catches could push Jefferson up the board.
Defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence was given a grade of 6.15, which corresponds to "good backup who could become a starter," and was compared to Texans defensive end Carlos Watkins.
Lawrence's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Plays with dog mentality and is ready to turn any rep into a street fight if he needs to. Lawrence's leadership and toughness stand out on the defensive side of the ball. He plays with pain and never shortchanges teammates in the effort department.
"He needs to play with better control of his feet and motor to improve consistency and balance at the point of attack. He can get some pocket push going from time to time but is likely to come off the field on passing downs. If his medicals check out, he could become a solid rotational defensive lineman."
Offensive lineman Damien Lewis was given a grade of 6.13, which corresponds to "good backup who could become a starter," and was compared to Raiders guard Gabe Jackson.
Lewis' overview, as written by Zierlein: "The run-blocking tape shows a forklift dressed as a right guard with the power and leverage to move some of the best interior defenders in the conference. The pass-blocking tape shows a heavy-footed guard who lacks length and lateral quickness to hold up if asked to block on an island.
"Lewis needs to play for a team heavy into gap and inside-zone concepts. He can hold his own against bull rushers but will struggle to move and recover against moving pieces in pass protection. He's a one-position prospect who lacks height/length but he's a plus run blocker who should outperform his draft slotting."
Tight end Thaddeus Moss, one of LSU's early draft entrants, was given a grade of 5.98, which corresponds to "developmental traits-based prospect," and was compared to Titans tight end MyCole Pruitt.
Lewis' overview, as written by Zierlein: "Family lineage and brand awareness playing with Joe Burrow and LSU make it easy to overshoot expectations for Moss as a dynamic pass-catcher, but tape study shows he's actually more skilled as a run blocker. He has great hands and good body control, but he's an average athlete who benefited from rub routes and off coverage to find plenty of open-window catches.
"He will get after it as a run blocker, using above-average technique and an impressive ability to strain and sustain against bigger opponents. He could struggle to uncover against tight man, but his hybrid TE/H-back versatility and run-blocking prowess could lock him into a TE3 role."
Linebacker Jacob Phillips, one of LSU's early entrants for the draft, was not given a grade. When a prospect is not issued a grade, it signifies that they likely need time in a developmental league. The lowest grade issued to prospects is a 5.0, which corresponds to "chance to be in an NFL training camp."
Linebacker Patrick Queen, one of LSU's early entrants for the draft, was issued a grade of 5.76, which corresponds with "backup/special teamer," and was compared to Chargers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Queen's overview, as written by Zierlein: "While other Tigers received more attention, Queen has some of the most eye-opening tape of the bunch. He plays fast, physical and with impressive field confidence for a one-year starter. His ability to diagnose and flow are both very rapid, and he operates with excellent body control and balance to gobble up runners as an open-field tackler.
"His inexperience will show itself in taking on blocks and finding optimal pursuit angles, but that will get cleaned up in time. Queen is next up from LSU's linebacker factory, possessing the same three-down ability to hunt, cover and tackle as those before him. He's an early starter with a sky-high ceiling."
Stephen Sullivan, who played wide receiver at LSU but is being listed as a tight end for NFL Combine purposes, was issued a grade of 5.64, which corresponds to "chance to make end of roster or practice squad."
Sullivan's overview, as written by Zierlein: "Big receiver with the body type and contested catch toughness to make transition to a big slot or flex tight end role. He added weight and played tight end early in the year, but simply lacked the functional strength as a blocker.
"However, he's an above-average blocker in space who can help spring receiver screens, jet-sweeps and outside runs. He finds traffic and coverage too often in his routes and needs to get better at using his burst and body to separate. He's a developmental project worth a stash spot while teams keep tinkering and teaching to see if they have something."