Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
Former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson

LSU football: Ranking the top 5 current Tigers in the NFL

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we discuss former Tigers in the NFL, recap the poll question from Monday, break down the giant, previous sports day and more. Enjoy!

Well, that’s something …

With less than a month remaining until the 2017 NFL Draft and three former LSU football players expected to be drafted in the first round, NFL.com thought it would be prudent to release a ranking of the top 5 LSU alums in the pros.

And, let’s just say, the list leaves a little to be desired.

As it stands, NFL.com’s list looks like this:

  1. Arizona Cardinals DB Patrick Peterson
  2. New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.
  3. Arizona Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu
  4. Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry
  5. Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth

With all due respect to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander and his 145 tackles, 3 sacks and 7 passes defensed last year, I think NFL.com got the five players right. But the order is a bit jacked up.

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Cincinnati offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth

To me, Beckham and Whitworth have to be the top two guys, primarily because of their consistency. In three seasons in the NFL, Beckham has never ranked lower than the 51st-best player in the league according to Pro Football Focus year-end grades. That’s across all positions. In that same span, Whitworth hasn’t ranked below 41st. And last season, Whitworth allowed the fewest quarterback pressures of any NFL tackle.

Whitworth isn’t quite as flashy as Beckham, but he probably deserves the No. 1 spot with a slight, slight, slight edge over Odell. At No. 3, I go Mathieu, who, when he’s recovered from injury, is one of the most unique and unstoppable defenders in football. After that, I go Peterson. I think Peterson tends to be a tad bit overrated because there are very few truly elite cornerbacks in the NFL, but his interception numbers don’t lie.

And at fifth, I sneak in Jarvis Landry. Nothing against the guy. I think he’s a top 10 receiver in the NFL. But that’s some pretty good competition to be behind.

Your weekly LSU football poll recap

In Bayou Bengal Briefing on Monday, I asked you which sophomore you thought would be the most important to the LSU football team in 2017. More than 750 of you voted in one of our most popular polls ever. And one name ran away from the pack.

lsu football

With 68 percent of the vote, linebacker Devin White won in a landslide, lapping second-place finisher Rashard Lawrence, who accumulated 12 percent of the vote.

Other than those two and wide receiver Drake Davis (8 percent), no player earned more than 5 percent of the votes.

Picking White is probably the smart money. White has looked strong in camp this spring, he’s a dominant athlete who can play more than one linebacker position and he has guys such as Jamal Adams, Leonard Fournette and Kendell Beckwith in his corner.

Of all the sophomores on this list, White is the only slam dunk starter in my opinion. And a lot is going to be asked of him filling in for Beckwith and Duke Riley. But if this poll is any indication, the LSU football fan base has confidence in him. For whatever that’s worth.

Be sure to check back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing every Monday for our weekly LSU football poll questions.

Speaking of linebackers …

As Ross Dellenger of The Advocate reported Monday, senior linebacker Donnie Alexander is practicing this spring with a torn labrum and will undergo surgery as soon as spring practice is over.

Donnie Alexander by Sam Spiegelman-lsu football
LSU linebacker Donnie Alexander (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

Alexander isn’t the only LSU football player practicing through an injured labrum. Center Will Clapp had his labrum surgically repaired in January and returned to the field last week, albeit in a non-contact capacity. Clapp’s speedy return should be good news for LSU fans regarding how quickly Alexander can return.

The senior missed one practice last week but is expected to participate in LSU’s April 22 spring game. And good thing, too: Alexander and White are the only two scholarship inside linebackers LSU has this spring, though Michael Divinity has been working out of position with the inside linebackers to boost the numbers.

One Shining Moment

LSU football players are just like you, part 1,451: A bunch of players were watching and tweeting about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game on Monday night. And one such player, tight end Caleb Roddy, was mostly tweeting I told you so’s.

Back on March 14, Roddy tweeted out that he picked UNC to win the tournament.

So, when it came to pass that Roddy was right, he gloated in one of the more humble ways: via shrug emojis.

Of course, Roddy wasn’t the only person pleased by the Tar Heels’ success. Oddly, superstar running back Derrius Guice was involved in the fun, tweeting out his support for UNC’s storied history.

In Opening Day news …

A handful of former LSU baseball players kicked off their 2017 Major League Baseball seasons Monday. And while Alex Bregman went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a stolen base and DJ LeMahieu started his season 0 for 4, the two most notable former Tigers to talk about were Kevin Gausman and Ryan Schimpf.

Gausman made the first Opening Day start of his career Monday, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing 2 runs in the Orioles’ walk-off win against Toronto. Gausman struck out 4 and walked 4 batters, allowing 5 hits and keeping the powerful Blue Jays lineup out of the home run column. For his efforts, Gausman earned no decision.

Schimpf, meanwhile, pulled off the impressive task of going deep against the most dominant pitcher in baseball. With his team already down by 11 runs, Schimpf teed off on Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for a solo home run, his first of the season. Most notably, Schimpf homered off Kershaw lefty versus lefty. Prior to Schimpf, Kershaw had allowed 12 regular-season home runs to left-handed hitters in the last five seasons, including none last year.

In current LSU baseball news

The LSU baseball team hosts Grambling State at Alex Box Stadium on Tuesday night, beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN and available on radio on 98.1 FM Baton Rouge and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

Freshman Todd Peterson will start after LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri decided to move regular midweek starter Zack Hess to the bullpen full time this week. First baseman Jake Slaughter will return to the lineup for the Tigers after Mainieri sat him down for the last two games of LSU’s weekend series versus Texas A&M.

Expect plenty of action from LSU’s bullpen, as Mainieri said he could use as many as 10 pitchers if necessary. That includes Hess, who’ll come out of the pen to get accustomed to the transition, as well as closer Caleb Gilbert. Mainieri wants Gilbert to bounce back from allowing a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning Saturday.

Today in made-up holidays

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, Tuesday is “National Hug a Newsperson Day.”

So, uh, yeah, hug me.

It’s also “National Walk Around Things Day” and “National School Librarian Day,” so I’m not in particularly exclusive company. But if you want to make it a trifecta, thank a school librarian, take a walk around a neighborhood park and find me and give me a hug. This is the only day I will condone that behavior.

I’m not an easy man to find. But if you can locate me, I’ll accept you.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every column of SEC Country’s daily LSU football column right here.