LSU’s 2022 NFL Draft class was one of the more unexpectedly impressive drafts in LSU history, ending with ten players selected, the second-most in the country. Afterward, the question was rightfully asked: How did a team with ten NFL draft picks go 6-7 last year?
As we know, there are several reasons for the struggles of 2021, but the draft success signifies just how talent-rich LSU is as a program. The Tigers continue to produce pros at an incredible rate and now the hope is that new head coach Brian Kelly can harness that talent and put the pieces in order for success moving forward.
We’ve discussed the roster turnover plenty on the site, but between transfers, seniors graduating, and draftees, the Tigers had an incredible amount of holes to fill over the offseason. Kelly and company went to the portal for a significant chunk of their talent to fill those gaps, but there could also be some returning players on the roster in position to step in.
CB DEREK STINGLEY
Yes, I know. Derek Stingley didn’t play last year. LSU technically doesn’t need to “replace” anything, but let’s talk about the outside corner spots. With Stingley and Eli Ricks departing, the Tigers went to the transfer portal to solve the lack of depth on the outside. Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Mekhi Garner were brought in and brought immediate experience, size, and talent to the outside corner spots for LSU in 2022, creating plenty of optimism leaving spring camp. Sevyn Banks was another late addition out of Ohio State.
The all-conference corners will be challenged in the SEC, but I expect both to be quality starters on the defense in 2022. Will one be a top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft? No. So technically there’s a downgrade at the position, but the best ability is availability and that needs to be their motto in the fall.
G ED INGRAM
Starting at left guard for all 11 games he played last year, Ingram was one of the biggest factors in the offensive line’s improvement. His growth showed especially in the run game where he carved out holes late in the season. When looking at the guard spots, we’ve seen FCS all-American transfer Tre’Mond Shorts step into Ingram’s role and really look good to this point.
Expectations are high for Shorts, and while he has looked the part so far, the offensive line as a whole was a bit inconsistent during the spring going against an incredibly talented defensive line. I expect Shorts to start at left guard this year, so we’ll see if he can have the season Ingram did.
RB TY DAVIS-PRICE
The running back spot is always intriguing for LSU fans and while Ty Davis-Price wasn’t Leonard Fournette, he was still very solid. The Tigers also lost Corey Kiner to the transfer portal just a few weeks ago. Now, it’s up to John Emery and Armoni Goodwin to take the reigns. Both played well during the spring game and need to be potent for the Tigers in 2022.
Noah Cain and Josh Williams will be in the mix as well, but I’m looking at Emery and Goodwin to have great seasons. I’m not sure how much of an upgrade this is, but it feels like Emery should be able to continue what Davis-Price did in 2021.
K CADE YORK
The best kicker in the country. The first kicker drafted in LSU history. The first kicker taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. Goodluck replacing this guy. Nathan Dibert is expected to come in as a true freshman and be the starter and I’m sure he’ll have a great career, but I’m personally not going to expect him to be the next Cade York. We’ll see how he steps into the spotlight and how he develops, because having York
DT NEIL FARRELL
One of the best interior defensive linemen in the country according to Pro Football Focus, Farrell was a force on the defensive line and (most importantly) stayed healthy. He was drafted in the fourth round this year and leaves huge shoes to fill, but the Tigers should be more than capable of filling them. Jaquelin Roy is the player who will be tasked with doing this and after a good spring, Roy is set up to have a strong season on one of the better defensive lines in the country.
Roy is an elite pass rusher and will have a strong season, so I’m not too worried about a dropoff at defensive tackle.
LB DAMONE CLARK
Perhaps the toughest draftee to replace, Damone Clark was incredible last year. Unfortunately, he fell from a likely second round pick to a fifth rounder after having back surgery that is holding him out of his rookie season in the NFL. Still, that doesn’t take away from how great he was for LSU in 2021. As a Butkus Award Finalist, Clark held down the middle in a way that is going to be difficult to replicate. New defensive coordinator Matt House has turned to Greg Penn and Mike Jones during the spring at the inside linebacker spots, but expecting them to be one of the best linebackers in the country is asking a lot, so I think we’ll see a drop off in terms of production from Clark to Penn/Jones, but that doesn’t mean the defense can’t be successful.
OT AUSTIN DECULUS
A four-year starter at right tackle, Deculus had his moments of inconsistency, but overall was a good player for the Tigers. He played in 12 games for 829 snaps last year, making his sheer number of snaps tough to replace. Still, Brad Davis should be in position to piece together a quality offensive line and it seems like he has the perfect solution to replacing Deculus. There was plenty of shuffling during the spring, but we saw the idea of moving Cam Wire to right tackle and it’s probably Davis’ best bet at the moment.
Wire is the lone returning starter on the offensive line and capable of filling that role, which gives Davis some options across the offensive line with that spot locked down.
G CHASEN HINES
The starter at right guard for seven games last year, Hines ended his career with 17 total starts and now leaves Davis looking for answers at right guard. Without Marlon Martinez and Garrett Dellinger available during the spring, there was plenty of movement upfront in terms of lineups, but it ended with Miles Frazier, the transfer from FIU, getting the spot.
Frazier is undoubtedly talented but was recruited as a surefire starter at tackle. The move inside might require some technique work, but at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, he has the build to hold up and could be a quality replacement. I have a feeling this offensive line has a long way to go before the Florida State game, but it’s a good thing that Davis has some depth to work with once Martinez and Dellinger return to the mix.
DE ANDRE ANTHONY
It’s awesome Anthony was drafted after having his senior season cut very short. Anthony and Ali Gaye struggled with injuries last year, forcing the defense to experiment and try things like moving Maason Smith to the defensive end and eventually going to a 3-4 scheme.
Anthony was a really good player when healthy and a superb teammate, but LSU’s defensive line has reloaded to the point where they’ll be able to wreak havoc despite the loss of Anthony. Replacing the leadership of Glen Logan, Anthony and Farrell will be a task for that room entering the fall, though.