LSU underclassmen waiting on NFL decision

LSU's underclassmen still have one game left before making a decision regarding the NFL. Jalen Collins and Vadal Alexander go into detail on their thought process regarding their professional future

Not every LSU underclassmen with an impending NFL decision wanted to discuss their future.

Of the five players that submitted their names for draft grades — Danielle Hunter, Kwon Alexander, Jalen Collins, Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins — only two went into much detail about their status. Kwon Alexander and Hawkins did little more than confirm they did submit for evaluations, and Hunter declined comment altogether.

“I’m not here to talk about that right now,” he said. “I just want to talk about Notre Dame at the moment, please.”

Collins and Vadal Alexander did offer up a bit more insight on the draft process though. Both said they’re spending little time focusing on the NFL with one game left in the season, but that will change immediately after the Music City Bowl.

“The main thing I want to do is really hold off on it until the bowl game,” Alexander said. “There are pros and cons to it, but I’m not having a serious conversation about it until after the bowl game, because I really want to focus on finishing the season. It’s something that will distract you if you get too much into it right now.”

“I’ve thought about it a couple times,” Collins said. “But I haven’t made any final decisions yet. We still have one more game, and whatever happens after that, I don’t know yet.”

The next step in the draft process will be receiving their grades. This year’s changes to the system limit schools to submit only five players for evaluation, though LSU has petitioned for more. The NFL has also scaled back the grades it hands out, giving players a first-round grade, second-round grade or recommendation they should stay in school.

Neither Collins nor Alexander could say what effect that grade will have on their decision until they get it.

“It might get me thinking a certain way,” Collins said. “But ultimately I’ll just have to rely on what’s best for me.”

“It depends on what it is,” Alexander said. “I couldn’t tell you right now because I haven’t really decided my feelings toward it.”

The recent past is littered with examples of both success and failure when it comes to LSU players leaving early.

Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill are obviously doing quite well in the NFL, and even Trai Turner — whose decision some questioned — is starting for the Carolina Panthers. There are negative examples though. Spencer Ware left early, got drafted in the sixth round and is no longer in the league. Chris Faulk left after the 2012 season and hasn’t made an NFL roster since.

There are players that made mistakes by returning. Terrence Toliver and Ciron Black opted to return for senior seasons, but both went undrafted after finishing their college careers.

La’El Collins is a much better example of the benefits of coming back though. The award-winning left tackle was a consensus first-team All-SEC, second-team All-America and should be a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Both Jalen Collins and Alexander said he’s someone they can lean on when making their decision.

“I haven’t talked to him about it yet, but I’m sure we will after this next game,” Jalen Collins said. “It’s still up in the air, but it would be great to look to him for insight…He came back and had a really good year, dominating guys. Just having that extra year under your belt can only do wonders.”

“La’El made a great decision,” Alexander said. “It really benefitted him in the long run…He had a great year. He sat down and gave it some time and thought after the bowl game and decided he wanted to stay. It’s a very good example of that.”

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