LSU Florida 1A

LSU safety JaCoby Stevens (7) and safety Maurice Hampton Jr. (14) celebrate after LSU stopped Florida on a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) ORG XMIT: GVP106 ORG XMIT: BAT2012121859212479

After four seasons and a position switch at LSU, JaCoby Stevens will get his NFL shot with the Philadelphia Eagles, which selected the former Tigers safety in the 6th round at No. 224 overall.

The hard-hitting safety became the sixth LSU player selected in the 2021 draft, and the fourth on Day 3. Ja'Marr Chase went No. 5 overall to the Bengals, Terrace Marshall Jr. went to the Panthers in the second round, Jabril Cox and Tyler Shelvin went in Round 4 to the Cowboys and Bengals, respectively, and Racey McMath went to the Titans earlier in Round 6. 

Stevens was one of the few draft-eligible starters from LSU's 2019 squad to return for another college year. But he saw his numbers dip from 92 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 interceptions to 63, 3 and 0 in his senior season while spearheading a defensive secondary that struggled to start the year. The LSU defense rebounded for a stronger finish to the season, and Stevens recovered a fumble that sealed a victory against Ole Miss in the 2020 finale, which he had previously said would be his final game with the Tigers.

Stevens split time between wide receiver and safety as a freshman, but was full-time on defense by his sophomore year. He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week three times in junior season (Mississippi State, Auburn and Arkansas).

"Stevens is in a precarious position as either an undersized linebacker with just average toughness at the point of attack or an oversized safety lacking instincts and coverage speed," wrote NFL analyst Lance Zierlein. "He played heavier in 2020 and simply didn't look as quick or as agile as he did in 2019. ... Determining his scheme fit and finding his optimal weight will be critical for him to have success on the next level."

Possibly buoying his draft status was an elite showing at LSU's pro day in March, when he showed off a blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds, a 42-inch vertical and a broad jump of 10 feet, 10 inches.


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Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak