Miles: Pro Day "proof" LSU system's working

Les Miles was all smiles Wednesday at LSU Pro Day. LSU's head coach discussed what the day means for the program and how the Tigers are prepared for an increasing amount of three-and-dones.

LSU put on its annual Pro Day Wednesday inside the team's indoor practice facility, playing host to NFL head coaches, general managers and other league personnel types.

On display for the Tigers were no less than six underclassmen, including two-year lettermen Jeremy Hill and Trai Turner as well as other non-seniors in Odell Beckham, Ego Ferguson, Anthony Johnson and Jarvis Landry.

Leaving early has become a growing trend for LSU, far and away the nation's leader in that department. In the mind of head coach Les Miles, it's all going according to plan for the Tigers.

"The natural outcome suddenly is degree plus the NFL. It translates very effectively on days like today," Miles said while watching his players run 40-yard dashes. "(We had) 11 juniors leave two years ago, seven leave this year. We've had 51 drafted in nine years, 12 first-round guys. They expect to get their degree and then they expect to play in the NFL. Days like today are kinda proof."

Continuing to muse on the current landscape of college football and the way his program approaches the revolving door from high school to the NFL, Miles acknowledged he and his staff have been forced to recruit with the expectation of underclassmen making the jump.

"You have to be prepared for those juniors that leave. It's a necessary ill, if you will," continued Miles. "Our guys improve, they're capable and they can play in the NFL. There are some guys that maybe should give vision to staying, but up to this point our guys that enter the draft early have had great success."

The Hat did point out, however, that it's not exactly a concerted recruiting pitch on behalf of the staff – that a prep star can come to TigerTown and walk across the podium to meet the commish three years later.

Miles said that tends to take care of itself.

"I don't know that we need to sell them," explained Miles. "It's obvious. It's definitive. It doesn't need to be displayed much. Our guys recognize they can go to the NFL early here."

So while the message isn't explicitly sent by Miles and LSU's assistants, there's no doubt it's still received on the other end by a crop of hungry recruits.

And events like Pro Day serve as highly publicized pay-offs for that type of mentality bred throughout the program.

"I want to say five head coaches, seven general managers (are here)," Miles declared, looking around the facility with a smile. "Virtually every team is represented. It lets us know that we're doing a good job recruiting, that our guys are attractive to the next level.

"Certainly those guys that are young guys now that are out there in Louisiana and states in our perimeter, they want to be a part of something just like this. This is the style of day that you enter the NFL from."

Miles on LSU players and the draft

LSU's head coach did field questions on Wednesday regarding several of his marquee players and what he's hearing about them inching closer to the NFL Draft, which begins May 8.

Here's what Miles had to say on QB Zach Mettenberger and receivers Beckham and Landry.

Mettenberger is bouncing back from a knee injury
On Mettenberger … "I think Zach is a guy that will really play at a very high level in the NFL, and I think he'll climb into an elevated position. I think he's improving. I think they'll see that his leg is in the high-90 percentile. He's back. I think he'll throw extremely well, and he's going to play in the NFL for a long time. I'll be surprised if he's not a very early draft pick."

More on Mettenberger … "When he showed up here and really did not play a lot, he was kinda in the backdrop. We didn't necessarily feel his presence. When we turned to him and he became that player, he really stepped into a role of leadership. We felt like he needed to take on more of a position of team leader than necessarily quarterback. He did that. He's one of the toughest guys on our team and continued to improve through his last snaps. I think he'll play a long time in the NFL."

On Beckham … "I have seen nothing but greater interest in Odell Beckham. I think Odell is going to be drafted early. You hate to predict a draft position, but if he's not gone in the first day we'd be surprised. I think really, if you look at our draft-eligible guys, they're all getting increased favorable reviews from not only off-the-field interviews but what appears to be the strength and speed of the timed measurables."

On Landry … "I think certain guys are football players. There was an offensive guard back in the NFL, I want to say he played for the Vikings and I can't quite grab his name right now, but he had the worst stance and looked terrible. I just could not believe he was an NFL player. Then I watched him come off the football, and I was like ‘Wow.' He was one of those really great football players that did not necessarily define himself by his height or his size or his stance or his athletic ability. Just his mental toughness. I think Landry certainly has that."


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