NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
Scott Long chats with Mike Detillier
about LSU football
Scott: Mike, letâ€™s start with the recent NFL draft. Any surprises in terms of LSU players drafted or not drafted?
Mike: Of the draft picks it was Sam Montgomery taking such a hard plunge down the draft charts. His inconsistent play on the field and some of his one-on-one interviews did not go as well as it could have. He looked like a late first or early 2nd round pick in January and he drops until deep in Round 3. That is quite a drop. He lost the 2nd season, the workout and interview session.
Then going to Houston where they run a 3-4 defense and he is not a 3-4 defensive end means Wade Phillips is going to make him a 3-4 OLB, and someone to replace Connor Barwin who they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles during the free agency period. Interesting pick to that team.
I also thought Brad Wing, Chris Faulk and Michael Ford would get picked late. Wing was the best punter in this draft class, but he scared teams off because of his off the field incidents. The knee issue had teams pass on Faulk.
Ford will play in the NFL. His versatility gives him that shot. To be honest all three should play in the NFL. It just goes to show you there is a certain cut to getting picked and also play in the NFL. I am surprised those three were passed on during the draft, but there are more free agents on rosters than any draft picks, so they will get their chance. I really thought all three would get selected so I was wrong on feeling all three would get picked, but I really feel all three will play in the league.
Scott: I know you were at the LSU Spring game. What did you think offensively and was Cam Cameron's influence obvious to you?
Mike: I liked the play of their 1st team offensive line and the receivers. They pushed the ball deeper downfield than in the past. I am interested to see how they incorporate the backs and tight ends in this offense. Cam and the LSU coaches don't want to show everything they have done, but I think that element has to be emphasized more. I said it last year and the year before. The talents of backs like Alfred Blue, Hilliard, Terrence Magee, J.C. Copeland and the tight ends, Travis Dickson, Dillon Gordon and DeSean Smith, have to be bigger players in the passing game.
I want to see more from Zach Mettenberger in â€śgameâ€ť situations. He looked great in some games and others just really â€śoff centerâ€ť throwing the ball from a technical standpoint. His mechanics, mostly his footwork, looked better. What I want to see from him is his ability to move his feet when pressured and he didn't have a good feel for when pressure was coming down on him. His timeclock has to go off quicker and so if that is the issue, then get the tight ends and backs involved more with the quicker passes. When he got time and set up with his feet planted he looked awfully look, but there are other elements to this game like moving a little left or right to buy a little time and also he seems to have a better feel for when pressure is getting close to him.
Cam will have some influence, but we all know offensively this is Les Miles' show. He loves to play smash-mouth football and it has been successful, but the short to intermediate game has to be brought up not just a notch, but two.
I liked what I saw from Odell (Beckham) and also Travin Dural. Both can stretch the deep part of the game. Jarvis (Landry) was the "go-to" guy last season and he can just make the tough catch look routine. He brings to the table what Eric Martin did for LSU in the early 1980's.
Best offensive player was left tackle La'el Collins. Very impressed with his footwork, his quickness to adjust to the quicker players coming off the edge and he was a good run blocker, who looks stronger.
Also liked Jerald Hawkins.
Scott: You have always been a big fan of Jerald Hawkins, havenâ€™t you?
Mike: Yes. Scouted him in high school at West St. Mary and he had a difficult issue off the field to deal with last season, but he is such a talented player. He played all over the board at West St. Mary, but his size, quickness, wingspan and adjustment skills are very good for either left or right tackle. He needs to continue to get stronger, but it will be hard to keep him from seeing a lot of action this season, if not start.
Scott: Upfront the player that has the most eyes on him?
I would say Elliott Porter, the center. Elliott plays a position that has to make all the calls and adjustments. He is the QB of that unit. I like what I have seen from him athletically and from a physical standpoint, and you have to be very sharp mentally to get that group to work as one. P.J. Lonergan and T-Bob (Hebert) did that for the past three to four years and so Elliott becomes the main focus.
Scott: Talk a little about JC Copeland. Is he the best fullback in the country?
Mike: Along with Oklahoma's Trey Millard, he is. Both are excellent lead blockers, good receivers and when given a chance they rush the ball well. Trey is a little better receiver and JC is a little better lead-blocker. Both are good short-yardage and goalline runners. But both know their main jobs is to block and protect their QB's. JC is a very physical player and if I have a workhorse back in the NFL, I want Copeland on my team. Just a very good overall fullback and he will help out on special teams also. JC and Trey are 1A and 1B as far as the best fullbacks in college football.
Scott: What do you think of Anthony Jennings and do you think he has a leg up on Stephen Rivers for the back-up QB spot?
Mike: Very impressed with Anthony Jennings. He is a quick pick-up guy from a mental standpoint and his athleticism and accuracy skills were impressive. He was very comfortable running the offense and his passing mechanics are very good also. He certainly is giving Rivers a run for his money as the #2 guy. Rivers has the edge due to his familiarity with the receivers and some experience, but talent wise, Anthony has the edge. His ability to make plays with his feet and buy time with his movement skills really stood out, but again I go back to his comfort with the offense and his accuracy throwing from the pocket. I think it is a lot closer than some would have thought and fall drills will be interesting to watch between the two.
Scott: Jeremy Hill sure looked impressive in the game and practices. What do you make of this mess he's gotten himself into?
Mike: He is a tremendous running back, no question. I have likened his style and skillset to Cecil Collins and I hate to see that he is following in the direction that derailed Cecil also. You can't put yourself in that spot. I have been with athletes in social situations and also people in the media and people will say things to provoke them, but you can't get physically involved. This is why athletes today almost cocoon themselves. But Jeremy knew he was walking on thin ice due to the prior incident and you have to walk away from that situation. You have too much to lose and some people just like to try and get under the skin of athletes because of their fame and potential ability to earn money most will just dream about. There is a big jealousy issue out there with some people, but as an athlete, you can't physically get involved. It's not worth it and today cameras, cellphones and microphones are everywhere to catch you doing or saying something in a public place. I know Les Miles and the powers to be at LSU will let the legal situation resolved itself, but right now I don't see him back on this team for much of the early part of the season, if at all in 2013.
Scott: I know from previous talks that you are big on Alfred Blue, and so am I. What do you expect from him this year?
Mike: I saw Alfred play so much in high school at Hahnville. He is a big back too, much taller than most people think he is. Blue is a very impressive runner, who has excellent field vision, he runs with good body balance and lean, he is a very good finisher and Alfred is an excellent receiver coming out of the backfield. If he can stay healthy, he is going to be a top-100 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. As a back he has the entire package you are looking for. He has worked hard to get stronger in the off-season at the Duke Academy and he has also worked hard on getting better as a pass protector, but you have to really be impressed with his great desire to succeed and he has a strong work ethic. His running style is close to what Joseph Addai had at LSU and in the NFL. He has a bit of a straight-up running style, but he runs with good balance, he can run with both power and speed and again his receiving skills are very good. Last season before he got hurt he was the 2nd leading rusher in the SEC. Most people don't remember that. I expect a huge season from Alfred.
Scott: Did you like what you saw from Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson?
Mike: Yes. Both very talented big men who can move. Johnson has the whole package as a player, but now he needs to turn that potential into production and especially as an inside pass rusher. He has an outstanding combination of size, speed off the snap and power-moves.
Ego is a power-player and he has really improved upon using his arms and hands better to get off of a block in a quicker manner.
It is key for them to be productive and stay healthy. Behind them are guys with little to no college experience. But I did like what I saw from Christian LaCouture. He 's impressive athletically and Christian's a good technician for a freshman. I am anxious to see what Greg Gilmore and Maquedious Bain can also add upfront. I think Gilmore will see a lot of action in 2013 as a reserve.
The depth here has to be developed quickly because teams early on will try and wear the Tiger defense down running the ball. That's what happens when you lose players like Montgomery, Mingo, Downs, Edwards and Logan.
Scott: Is defensive tackle, or I should say the lack of depth there, your biggest concern on defense?
Mike: It's a concern, but not the biggest ones. I want to see the development of the defensive ends in Jordan Allen, Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco-who had an excellent spring. Like at defensive tackle you will have to play some freshmen in reserve roles. Kendal (Beckwith) and Frank Herron will get that shot to see a lot of action as key reserves, but it will be how well Allen, Hunter and Rasco perform that is a major concern and I would move Lamin Barrow to middle linebacker.
Barrow is your best linebacker and I want him to play that "Mike" spot. He had a tremendous 2012 season. He is smart, instinctive, he flows well to the ball and he has had some experience as a middle linebacker.
The depth at outside linebacker is really good. Tahj Jones can man the "Sam" spot and then have Kwon Alexander, Debo Jones, Lamar Louis and Lorenzo Phillips fight it out on the weakside.
Finding the right defensive end starting combo and finding the right middle linebacker and it is Barrow at that spot are the concerns for me on defense.
Keeping healthy early on is key. If you get a rash of injuries upfront that could spell trouble.
Scott: Who is the most improved secondary player from a year ago?
Mike: Micah Eugene. It was a question on how he grasped what was asked of him in 2012 and he was impressive in the practice sessions and scrimmage.
Scott: How about an early prediction for LSU in 2013? 10-2, 9-3, 8-4 or 7-5
Mike: 9-3. With an improved Mettenberger at quarterback and a strong back-end on defense I really see them hitting the 9-win mark. The key is what happens upfront. They can't afford to get key injuries, especially to Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson at defensive tackle or an injury to Jermauria Rasco at defensive end. Like Minter a year ago there may be better talents and players that will get drafted higher, but watch Lamin Barrow emerge as the best player on defense.
Scott: Last year before the season started you said to watch out for Texas A&M. Who is that â€śwatch outâ€ť team in 2013?
Mike: Ole Miss. They are well coached. Hugh Freeze has assembled a strong staff and they are an explosive offensive team and getting better talent and depth on defense. I really believe that Clemson stole a lot of what Ole Miss did and used that against LSU. Ole Miss gave LSU a ton of trouble offensively and both Clemson and Ole Miss run a similar offense. Clemson just went after LSU the same way. They attacked the Tiger secondary with DeAndre Hopkins the same way the Rebels used Donte McCrief. Really Ole Miss ran the ball better against the Tigers than Clemson did. Odell (Beckham) and the special teams unit bailed them out with the punt return for a touchdown. Watch out for the Rebels. They are for real folks.
Scott: Could the Tigers have 6 to 8 players drafted next April?
Mike: Potentially Yes. La'el Collins I believe will emerge as one of the top left tackles in college football. And then you have Alfred Blue, Zach Mettenberger, JC Copeland and who knows who else could come out early on offense with guys like Odell Beckham, Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill.
And on defense, Anthony Johnson is a potential 1st round pick and could come out early, Ego Ferguson is also a good pro prospect and Lamin Barrow, Tahj Jones and Craig Loston.
Scott: You do a lot of national work across the country. Does LSU and the SEC get respect they deserve across the college football world?
Mike: No question, itâ€™s yes. I have done shows all over the country about LSU and the dominance of the SEC. Now, that maybe wasn't the case five years ago, but you can't overlook the success of this conference, the great coaches and players and the competitive nature. Also no one plays defense like they do in the Southeast Conference. We didn't get a chance to talk much on National Signing Day because stations from all across the country from New York to Florida, to Chicago, St. Louis and out West in Los Angeles, Seattle, out in Oregon and certainly all across Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Deep South wanted to talk about LSU and the great success of the SEC.
Right now, Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Notre Dame are the name brand schools in college football. Those four have eclipsed USC, Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Penn State and Oklahoma for that honor.
It's amazing for good and bad the coverage LSU gets across the country. They are the new "U" for attracting players who end up in the NFL and playing in meaningful games from year to year and they are almost always in contention for BCS games. We have lived in the Golden Age of LSU football the past ten years.
Scott: Ok, one more question for now... What do you make of LSU's most recent addition to the 2014 recruiting class, D'haquille Williams?
Mike: I saw D'haquille Williams play four times at East St. John and I called a television game, the HTV Bayou vs. River Region All-Star game with him and he not only excelled in every game, but dominated. In my over 25 years of scouting talent from the prep ranks to the colleges in Louisiana three receivers stand out. Reggie Wayne at John Ehret, Chris Henry at Belle Chasse and Williams and Williams has more natural skills than the other two.
His size, physical nature, his eye-hand coordination and one-step fast speed makes him a cut above.
Now, he needs to get his degree and really focus on being the best player he can be.
That is what makes Reggie Wayne so special. He was a terrific football player and had great natural skills, but he worked and worked and worked at his game as a route runner, on his set-up skills as a receiver and upon his ability to catch the easy catches and not try and get up the field before securing the grab.
Williams has more physical ability than any other receiver I have scouted coming out of Louisiana.
Just look at the schools that were after him. USC, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, etc, etc. Those schools could clearly see what everyone that has watched him has and that is he is a clear â€śgamechangerâ€ť at wide receiver.
People will be shocked on just how good he is.
He will have an impact as a receiver like Cordarrelle Patterson did at Tennessee as a receiver, but he is bigger, more physical and a more sure-handed target than Patterson and the Minnesota Vikings took in Round One last month. Patterson really stood out too as a return man, but the SEC is now looking at what is coming out of the prep ranks and it is bigger ends. Percy Harvin was a terrific â€ślittleâ€ť receiver in the SEC and Tavon Austin was that sort of player at West Virginia, but you are finding receivers with size today much more numbers wise. Hopefully he can get his grades and degree in order and he gets to play at LSU because he is going to be a special player.
Mike Detillier, based in southern Louisiana, is editor and publisher of Mike Detillier's NFL Draft Report. He's also the college and pro football analyst for WWL 870 AM Radio in New Orleans, a sports columnist for several newspapers and Web sites, and a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country. His website is mikedetillier.com.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.