The Baton Rouge-to-NFL train will continue in 2017.
LSU had 5 players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, their 16th straight year with at least three draftees. And that streak will be comfortably extended in April, with more than a dozen dratable players on the roster.
Though their Citrus Bowl opponent Louisville also has a few NFL prospects, the Tigers still own seven of the top 10 2017 NFL Draft prospects, including the top five. Here are the top prospects in the Citrus Bowl, ranked:
Leonard Fournette is not the top prospect in the Citrus Bowl, because he's sitting out the game. However, he's still included in this exercise as the top prospect from LSU or Louisville.
Tigers' safety Jamal Adams could pass Fournette on draft boards by April, but the most imposing running back in college football remains on top. Despite injuries, he still averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry over three seasons and will wow scouts during pre-draft workouts.
Adams is a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder who jumps off the screen in numerous areas, including run support and coverage versatility. We can nitpick over mediocre footwork and occasionally poor hand technique but the top-10 pick remains an elite athlete who can play anywhere on the field.
Defensive backfield mate Tre'Davious White should join him in the first round. Terrific in press coverage and deep in one-on-one and many areas in between, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound corner may need a year of limited playing time to adjust to NFL run support.
On offense, receiver Malachi Dupre has been high in NFL projections since arriving at LSU as a five-star recruit in 2014.
Despite modest production (91 catches for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns) in three seasons, he remains a strong second-day prospect. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, he's a big-enough and physical-enough target with adequate explosiveness. He's versatile — plays both outside and in the slot — and has good hands and timing. Dupre could be challenged be center Ethan Pocic for fourth Tiger off the board.
As for Louisville, they won't have 10 players chosen like 2015, nor will they have only one like 2016; they'll settle somewhere in the middle, with outside linebacker Devonte Fields leading the way.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound former TCU transfer had 16 combined sacks the last two seasons, including 11 in 2015. He's lightning quick, can rush the passer from anywhere on the field and will chase down running backs from the backside. Fields, a potential early second-day pick, is a slightly less explosive version of Leonard Floyd.
Joining Fields as future NFLers on their defense are defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown, a hard-nosed run defender who should go in the third round at worst, and safety Josh Harvey, a massive (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) player who might join the increasingly long list of hard-hitting NFL safeties heavily utilized in the box.