It’s never too early to look into next year’s NFL draft class and right now for LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins and defensive tackle Anthony “The Freak” Johnson, both juniors, are the two best football players at LSU.
Both have the potential to be first-round choices in 2014, but there are two other players to keep a close eye on in 2013.
On offense watch for wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. to emerge as one of the top wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference in 2013.
Last season, the speedy Beckham struggled to catch the ball cleanly early in the season and seemed to be looking to want to hit a home run every time he touched the ball instead of making the sure grab and move the chains. Last season Beckham caught 43 passes for 713 yards, averaged 16.6 yards per catch and scored two touchdowns. But, he will always be remembered for his 89-yard punt return for a score against a pesky and talented Ole Miss team that sparked a 41-35 victory. This spring Beckham was outstanding in spring drills and he practiced with great confidence. In the LSU’s spring game, Beckham caught six passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
In 2012, the story on defense was the breakout performance of middle linebacker Kevin Minter. Minter played at an All-American level throughout the entire season and was the best player on a talented Tiger defense.
Minter’s exploits didn’t mask the most improved player on LSU’s team in 2012 and that was outside linebacker Lamin Barrow. Barrow was second on the team in tackles with 104 and he also recorded 7½ tackles for losses, five pass break-ups, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
The 6-2, 230 pounder has worked at both middle linebacker and on the weak-side this spring, and he will be a key cog in helping a young Tiger defensive front mature and be productive in 2013.
If I were LSU coach Les Miles, he would be my middle linebacker this season.
The former John Ehret High School product is also a very good leader and he has something you can’t teach, great instincts to quickly diagnose what is front of him.
Right now, both Barrow and Beckham grade as second-round picks, but don’t be surprised to see both these young men emerge as first team all-SEC performers in 2013 and raise their draft stock.