While there are college football programs who have more clout from a historical perspective, few send more players to the NFL than Louisiana State University does. Every year, it seems that the Tigers have a plethora of players selected in the draft, and many of them go on to become productive in their professional career. Indeed, some of the best players in the game today donned the yellow and purple LSU uniform in their college days. They've proven themselves to be one of the top-performing programs in the country, going toe-to-toe with the SEC's best teams year in, and year out.
Despite the success that LSU has seen, that doesn't mean that every player they send to the NFL ranks ends up having a great career. As is the case with any school, there are NFL busts to be had alongside the all-time greats. While the latter definitely outweighs the former in LSU's case, it's worth mentioning the former Tigers that have struggled in the pro game, along with the ones who excelled at the next level. Let's take a look at some players in each of those categories here.
Ranked below are the 8 best and 7 worst former LSU Tigers currently in the NFL.
15 Deion Jones (Best)
He's only been in the NFL for one season, but Jones had a stellar rookie campaign as the starting middle linebacker for the Falcons, and only figures to improve from here. He's the definition of a field general, and showed his ability to command the Atlanta defense with poise and technique. We know that the Falcons offense is off the charts, but if their defense can develop at a steady rate, we could see them actually win the Super Bowl next time around.
It's too early to say just how high Jones' ceiling is, but all signs point to him being a force in the middle of the field for many years. He's definitely one of the best young defensive players in the game, and is living up to his 2nd-round selection.
14 Reuben Randle (Worst)
If you only go by what the stat sheet says, Randle has had a decent NFL career. But if you take into account that he was a 2nd-round pick, his oftentimes-lackadaisical play and careless attitude make him seem a whole lot worse. After four relatively productive seasons with the Giants, Randle was signed and then cut by Philadelphia before the 2015 season even started. He's now on the Bears, looking to turn his career around.
Considering the high standards of LSU wide receivers, Randle just doesn't cut the mustard. He's still relatively young, but considering he was a 2nd-round pick, his career has undoubtedly been a disappointment so far. He still has time to prove his worth, but I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.
13 Jeremy Hill (Best)
A great 2013 season at LSU catapulted Hill into being a 2nd-round selection in the draft the following year, and he's still producing at a high level for the Bengals. He's never likely going to be a dynamic running back who can haul 1,500 yards in a single season, but he's efficient when he needs to be, and has a nose for the end zone, which is arguably the most important trait a player at his position can have.
It remains to be seen whether he resigns in Cincinnati after his rookie deal is up, but it would be a good move to keep him around. Hill has turned into a nice NFL player, and carved out a niche for himself in an offensive system that suits his skill set.
12 Alfred Blue (Worst)
Blue has been the backup runner in Houston for the past several seasons, and there's a reason why he's never made the jump into the starting role. He's not the most dynamic player, and doesn't run with the greatest vision, which explains the coaching staff's reluctance to give him a heavier workload.
He wasn't a top-tier player at LSU either, which explains his modest 6th-round draft selection. While there does lie a place for players like this as depth on an NFL roster, Blue's workload has decreased each of the past couple years. He'll have to do quite a bit to even make the Texans' roster, much less start to succeed on a consistent basis. Overall, the future for Blue just isn't that bright. There have been better LSU running backs over the years.
11 Jarvis Landry (Best)
Quietly performing as one of the better possession receivers in the league over the last few years, Landry is a player who lives up to the reputation of LSU wide receivers. He gives the Dolphins' passing attack a constant threat to work with, and is performing right in step with his 2nd-round selection. Landry is one of the most consistent receivers in football, and figures to maintain solid production for a long time to come.
While he's not the best LSU wide receiver we've seen in recent years (take a guess as to who that might be), Landry is still a model of consistency, and really one of the more underrated players in the entire league. He'll be productive wherever he goes, whether that means staying in Miami, or hitting free agency in a few years to find a new team.
10 Zach Mettenberger (Worst)
For a brief moment in time, the Titans toyed with the idea of giving Mettenberger the chance to work his way up to the starting quarterback position full-time. That didn't come to fruition, and now Mettenberger and his mediocre skill set are barely hanging around in the league, as he'll attempt to make the Steelers roster for this upcoming season, after serving as their third-string quarterback this past season.
His numbers weren't bad at LSU, but the Tigers are a notorious running team, and SEC quarterbacks in general don't fare so well in the pro ranks. Mettenberger is merely another in a long line of failed quarterbacks from the conference, and his long-term outlook in the NFL is bleak, to say the least. Best case scenario, he'll be able to collect a few more paychecks, and then be out the door.
9 Kwon Alexander (Best)
As we've seen already here, LSU has a penchant for producing some good middle linebackers, and Alexander is another notch on that belt. He had the best of his two NFL seasons last year, and is primed to really break out into the public consciousness for this upcoming season. The Buccaneers defense as a whole is rapidly improving, and Alexander is an important piece to the puzzle.
How high his ceiling is, nobody can really tell, but Alexander figures to be very good for a long time. He's on a good young team, and is the kind of building block necessary to make Tampa Bay a success in the proceeding seasons. As a 4th-round pick, he's played well about his selection, giving the Bucs great value for a middle linebacker that they know they'll be able to count on.
8 Michael Brockers (Worst)
For a player as touted as Brockers was coming out of LSU, he's had difficulty living up to the hype. He's certainly been a formidable NFL defensive tackle, but he certainly hasn't produced to the level that his 14th-overall selection would indicate. He also plays on a Rams defense that has been relatively strong at all levels, so he's not being asked to pull the bulk of the weight.
Brockers is the kind of player that would look a lot better if he just wasn't drafted in such a premium position. Now, he has little chance of really living up to such a selection, and the best defensive tackle on the team is unquestionably Aaron Donald. Brockers' time of relevance in the league seems to be drawing to close, and he'll likely leave without reaching his full potential.
7 Patrick Peterson (Best)
One of the true "island" cornerbacks during his prime that there was in the NFL, Peterson can still play at a high level. There's no doubt that he's solidified the Cardinals secondary into what it is today; a unit that has the potential to be one of the best in the league every season. Peterson can cover just about anybody in the league, make no mistake about it.
Considering he was a 5th-overall pick, he's lived up to the selection. He's truly one of the elite corners in the NFL, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The Cardinals may be going through a transitional period right now, but it's no fault of Peterson's and his elite play.
6 Lavar Edwards (Worst)
Edwards simply hasn't panned out, even as a 5th-round pick, and is currently on his 5th NFL team in three seasons. It's hard to expect someone with that kind of draft status to be a really good player, but Edwards isn't good in the slightest, to put it bluntly. He's the definition of a garden variety player, and frankly his time left in the league is on its last legs.
These kinds of players show just how difficult it is to remain on an NFL roster for an extended period of time, much less actually excel at what you're doing. Edwards isn't ever going to be a massively important player, but the longer he can stick around in some capacity, the longer he can defy the odds. It will be an uphill battle though, with nothing guaranteed.
5 Danielle Hunter (Best)
The best pass rusher in the league that you've never heard of, Hunter has been giving quarterbacks and offensive lineman nightmares for the past two seasons. He's racked up a boatload of sacks in his pair of seasons in the league, and that's not even as a full-time starter. If he keeps up his current trajectory, the Vikings have one of the best young defensive talents in the game, on their hands.
If Hunter can work his way into a starting role, he could put up some devastating numbers that approach the level of a pass rusher like J.J. Watt. The sky is really the limit. For Minnesota, it's an amazing return on a 3rd-round investment, and they'll continue to reap the benefits of this selection for a long time to come.
4 Morris Claiborne (Worst)
Claiborne was one of the most highly-touted cornerbacks of his generation when he was coming out of LSU, and it was enough to convince the Cowboys that he would be worth a 6th-overall pick in the 2012 draft. To say that he hasn't lived up to expectations would be a massive understatement. When Claiborne isn't hurt, he's on the field exhibiting sub-par play. Not the shutdown corner he was slated to be.
Now he's on the Jets trying to make one last ditch effort to save his career from an early retirement. Given the release of Darrelle Revis, there is a starting job to be had in New York. The question is whether Claiborne can be consistent enough to take it away in training camp. The smart money says no. Claiborne is a disappointment, and players in his situation very rarely improve out of nowhere. Definitely not up to the standards of other LSU defensive backs.
3 Tyrann Mathieu (Best)
Though he's struggled with some injuries over his four-year career, Mathieu is still one of the most dynamic defensive players in the league, and one of the most fun to watch. He can play multiple positions in the secondary, and is a versatile weapon at all times for the Cardinals. Playing well above his 3rd-round selection level, Arizona is definitely happy that they made this pick.
He still has a long career ahead of him, and by the time it's over, Mathieu could be looking some serious production. Such a varied skill set doesn't usually go to waste, and it definitely hasn't with Mathieu, who is one of the most exciting young talents in the sport today.
2 Barkevious Mingo (Worst)
A prolific career at LSU guaranteed that Mingo would be a 1st-round pick, and he was considered to be a blue-chip player in the 2013 draft. Unfortunately for them, the Browns took the bait, and Mingo never panned out in any way, shape or form. For a 6th-overall pick to only sporadically get on the field is an embarrassment, and he's one of the most notable draft busts that we've seen in recent years.
The Browns ended up dealing him off to the Patriots, but not even Bill Belichick could find an antidote for Mingo's poor play on the field. He's now on the Colts' roster, at least for the offseason, because their piss-poor defense allowed them to take a chance on a former top-ten draft bust, in hopes that he may be able to regain some of the ability that he once had. It doesn't seem very likely to happen, however.
1 Odell Beckham Jr. (Best)
Of course, OBJ has to be number one here. He's not only the best wide receiver to come out of LSU in recent memory, but flat-out one of the most dynamic players in the game today. He's one of the few receivers in the league who really are un-coverable. He's going to get his, no matter what happens with the defense. The Giants are reaping the benefits of this 1st-round selection, and Beckham figures to be an elite receiver in this league for a long, long time.
There's really no telling where his numbers will be in five years, but we can all safely assume that he might rank among the very best receivers to ever play the game, even in such a short amount of time. Quite simply, Beckham is a problem. Opposing defenses will be trying to figure out ways to stop him for years, to no avail. OBJ is definitely the best player in the league right now who was formerly an LSU Tiger.