QUESTION: Who will be LSU's starting/leading receivers in 2014?
Ben Love: This becomes a tough question to answer assuming both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry throw their names into the NFL Draft this April after their junior seasons. Couple that with Kadron Boone and James Wright graduating (and the fact that some of the veterans, like Jarrett Fobbs and Armand Williams, are career reserves to date), and it's inevitable that next year's corps will take on a green look for position coach Adam Henry.
I believe several of the new guys coming in with the 2014 crop will have a legitimate chance to showcase their skills right away, as Travin Dural may potentially be the only returner with any real experience. John Diarse, Quantavius Leslie and Kevin Spears are also around, but Diarse looks like the only member of that trio physically prepared for the rigors of playing in the SEC.
Of the expected newcomers, Speedy Noil and Malachi Dupre, in that order, are primed to hit the field and make an impact within the LSU offense. Noil just fits perfectly into the role of Z receiver Beckham is expected to vacate, and Dupre can challenge Dural at the X position. So, throwing them all into one pot and stirring it around, it's my very-early expectation that Dural, Diarse, Noil and Dupre will be the top four by the end of Fall Camp in August. (Extra note: The LSU staff is also very, very excited about 2014 commit Tony Upchurch, listed by Scout as a wide receiver. I think he could factor into the passing game as well in 2014 but possibly as an H-back or tight end.)
Hunter Paniagua: In order to discuss the WR position for 2014, you have to start with the top two from 2013. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry will have a big decision to make in the next couple weeks as they certainly have legitimate NFL opportunities. I consider both a no-brainer to go pro, especially Beckham, whose ability as both a receiver and returnman should make NFL execs drool. Landry's draft projections may not be as high, but it will be hard for either to improve his stock with a new quarterback coming in next season, and it would probably be best for both to strike now while the iron's hot.
Losing those two in addition to Kadron Boone, LSU's third most productive WR in 2013, leaves a lot of question marks at the position moving forward. Travin Dural's the most likely candidate to take over No. 1 duties. Most expected more out of Dural in his first season on the field, and there were flashes of the potential, but he'll need to be more consistent to be the most reliable receiver next season. But he does have the most experience as the Class of 2013 receivers — John Diarse, Kevin Spears and Avery Peterson — didn't receive any playing time. One of those will need to emerge next season in order to replace the production lost by Beckham, Landry and Boone.
But the Class of 2014 expects to bring in some highly-talented receivers that have the potential to make an immediate impact and possibly crack the starting lineup by the opener. There aren't many players in the country as dangerous in the open field as Devante Noil (aka "Speedy") and with him expected to enroll early, he should have a leg up. Malachi Dupre will also be in the discussion, as he's as polished a high school receiver as some currently in college. Don't rule out Trey Quinn either, who could possibly have an early impact as well. So to sum it up, LSU will have plenty of options to start at WR next season, but there'll be a lot of inexperience as well. Finding the players that are most ready by August will be one of the primary goals for this offense.
12/10 – Most surprising player in 2013
12/11 – Most disappointing player in 2013
12/13 – Can LSU return to DBU in 2014?
12/16 – How will the offense change with Jennings at QB?
12/17 – Grading out the 2013 offensive line