On to the next level

LSU set a program-record with nine former Tigers selected in the 2013 Draft. With Baton Rouge in their rearview mirrors, TSD's Hunter Paniagua examines how the draftees will fit in with their new NFL teams.

Barkevious MingoCleveland Browns (First Round, 6th overall)

Mingo had the honor of being the first Tiger off the board, serving as the third LSU player in as many years to be selected with a top-six pick (Patrick Peterson 5th overall in 2011, Morris Claiborne 6th overall in 2012). An elite defensive end on the college level, Mingo will make the transition to OLB in Cleveland's new 3-4 scheme. Adding speed to the pass rush was certainly something that Cleveland targeted with this draft, and though there were probably more glaring needs in the secondary, the Browns opted to make the call for Mingo. As with all DEs transitioning to linebacker, there will be questions about how Mingo will do in coverage, though he did show promising ability at LSU's Pro Day. He demonstrated agility and was able to find the ball in the air while maintaining balance. While there's always a bit of risk involved when selecting a converted DE with such a high pick, Mingo certainly has an opportunity to shine early in his career.

Eric ReidSan Francisco 49ers (First Round, 18th overall)

The 49ers had their sights set on Reid and made that pick happen by trading up into the first round to get him. Free Safety was San Francisco's most glaring need after they allowed 2012 starter Dashon Goldson to leave in free agency. That opening should allow Reid to step in right away and start for the 49ers, and the situation couldn't be much better for him. With playmakers all over that defense, including Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis, Reid won't be asked to put the team on his back. Instead he'll have time to get acclimated to the professional level while playing for a defense that helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last season.

Kevin MinterArizona Cardinals (Second Round, 45th overall)

Like Reid, Minter will have an opportunity to start for Arizona on Day 1. The Cardinals filled their biggest defensive need by taking Minter early in the second round as Arizona could desperately use some depth at inside linebacker. Neither one of the starters from the 2012 team will suit up with Arizona on opening week (Daryl Washington will serve a four-game suspension to open the season, and the Cardinals did not resign veteran Paris Lenon). That leaves a big opportunity for Minter should he be able to prove himself in camp. The only question will be how Minter adjusts to a 3-4 scheme, but with his knowledge of the game, I don't anticipate too many issues with that.

Bennie LoganPhiladelphia Eagles (Third Round, 67th overall)

As Philadelphia transitions to a 3-4 defense, new coach Chip Kelly has made it a priority to find big bodies to place on the interior of that defensive line. At 6-foot-2, 302 pounds, Logan certainly fits that mold and will add some necessary depth at DT with Fletcher Cox and Isaac Sopoaga. But size isn't all that attracted the Eagles to Logan. Kelly also mentioned his versatility, and Logan will likely spend some time at DE as well as nose tackle. He'll be called upon primarily as a run-stopper and should get significant time in the DL rotation.

Tyrann Mathieu – Arizona Cardinals (Third Round, 69th overall)

Considering whom he'll be teaming up with, the Honey Badger couldn't have asked for a better situation to be drafted into. Though Mathieu expected to go earlier, he'll suit up next to his mentor and former LSU teammate Patrick Peterson. With all the risk stemming from his off-the-field incidents at LSU, having Peterson close by should help keep Mathieu on the straight and narrow. As far as the football goes, Arizona appears like it will perform a bit of an experiment with Mathieu. The Cardinals intend to try him at FS and will likely get him in as a nickel corner in some situations. With his coverage skills the biggest question mark, moving him to safety may give him the best opportunity to shine, as his skill set isn't necessarily restricted to a certain position. He should also get chances on special teams, both on coverage and in the return game. Imagine a return duo of Peterson and Mathieu. It doesn't get much better than that.

Sam MontgomeryHouston Texans (Third Round, 95th overall)

Like Mingo, Montgomery's future won't be on the defensive line. Moving into a 3-4 scheme with the Texans, Montgomery will first get his chances as a strongside OLB. He fits the mold of pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, who excelled in Wade Phillips' defensive system in Dallas. The Texans' staff said Montgomery will immediately work into a three-man rotation at that position with Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus. His strength and athleticism are undeniable, which will help him transition smoothly to the next level. Obviously there will be questions about his ability to drop back when the situation calls for it, but his knack for rushing the passer is something that should help him see the field early.

Tharold SimonSeattle Seahawks (Fifth Round, 138th overall)

The NFL Draft couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for Simon. He was arrested Thursday night and was humiliated in the media as the arrest report circulated across the country. Predicted by several mock drafts as a third-round pick, Simon's stock certainly took a hit as he waited until Day 3 to hear his name called. Despite the arrest, Seattle doesn't anticipate it to be a long-term concern, and were happy to have Simon available in the fifth round. At 6-foot-3, he does fit the mold of the tall CBs that Seattle cherishes (he'll join 6-foot-3 Richard Sherman and 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner in the secondary). Simon has always had plenty of speed and athleticism, but will he be able to harness that into true coverage ability? It was something he struggled with at LSU, and it remains to be seen whether that will change in the NFL.

Lavar EdwardsTennessee Titans (Fifth Round, 142nd overall)

Had Edwards not been behind Montgomery and Mingo, he easily would have been a starter and probably a higher draft pick. Instead, he went in the fifth round and the Tennessee staff was ecstatic he dropped that low. The Titans' coaches raved about his combination of size (6-foot-4, about 270 pounds) and speed, as well as his impressive arm length. Edwards put up solid numbers at the Combine and during LSU's Pro Day, and Tennessee well hope that translates well to the field. Edwards will get time as a base DE, but the Titans do like his versatility as he lined up at both DE spots and the inside in his time at LSU.

Spencer Ware – Seattle Seahawks (Sixth Round, 194th overall)

Ware was the only one of the two LSU RBs to get drafted. He joins a crowded backfield in Seattle that features Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin and fellow draftee Chrstine Michael. But it appears Ware will quickly carve out a niche, as Pete Carroll said they'll start him out as a fullback. While Ware certainly has the strength necessary to play that position, the Seahawks aren't going to ignore his ability to carry the football and catch it out of the backfield. All those tools should help Ware separate himself from the other backs and help him develop a specific role in Seattle's offense.

Which of these former LSU standouts have the most star potential in the NFL?


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