Time to earn a spot

The first day of the draft was not as active for LSU as it had been in the past with only one player getting selected. The Tigers were much more prevalent on Sunday and into Monday with five guys getting picked on day two, and five more signing free agent contracts on Monday.

An old saying in the NFL is teams are made in the second day of the draft.

The first day - rounds one and two - gets the most attention as eyes all across America are glued onto their televisions to catch the sights and listen to the sounds in Radio City Music Hall in New York.

LSU fans witnessed Tyson Jackson go as the No. 3 pick overall to Kansas City 26 minutes into the 2009 draft. However, they were forced to sit on the sideline and watch for a while as it took more than nine hours and 141 selections for the next Tiger to get taken off the board.


Not many thought that Quinn Johnson, who was a three-star linebacker and a teammate of Jackson’s at West St. John High School, would be the second LSU player drafted. But when Green Bay was on the clock for their fourth pick they grabbed Johnson, who could have a bright future in the NFL according to Scout.com Draft Analyst and Scout Chris Steuber.


“I had some people asking me why would the Packers take a fullback, but Quinn has some decent offensive skills,” Steuber said. “He can block and he can line up wide too. I think he can do some nice things and was a good pickup for the Packers.”


Steuber admitted that he was surprised that Quinn was the first Johnson from LSU taken because like many others he had Herman Johnson tabbed as the second Tiger that would get picked.


Big Herm as he is referred to by many around LSU went 167th overall to Arizona. The Cardinals and their offensive line coach Russ Grimm took only two offensive linemen in the draft, and the massive 6-foot-7, 364-pounder will be joining a pair of his old teammates – Early Doucet and Ali Highsmith – on a club that made it all the way to the Super Bowl last season.


“I think he (Johnson) was really intriguing to some of the scouts because they thought he could play right tackle, but I think he’s going to be a guard,” Steuber said. “I think he adds a lot of depth there. The Cardinals have a developing line right now where they drafted Levi Brown a couple of years ago. I think Herm is going to get up on that line and really contribute.”


The Tigers had three more guys go in the seventh and final round on Sunday when San Francisco grabbed Curtis Taylor with the 219th overall pick and when the 49ers were on the clock again 25 picks later they selected Ricky Jean-Francois.


Sandwiched in between Taylor and Jean-Francois was Demetrius Byrd who went to San Diego at No. 224 overall.

Demetrius Byrd could be a big steal for the San Diego Chargers

Byrd may have to battle former LSU receiver Craig Davis for a roster spot in San Diego, but there is talk that the Chargers may be looking to shop Davis to another NFL team after playing in only 18 games in his first two seasons and catching only 24 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown.


Davis has had an injury-plagued career with the Chargers after battling the same demons at LSU, but Byrd has some obstacles to overcome as well with the car accident he was in only seven days before getting drafted.


Byrd, who is reportedly doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, could end up being a steal for the Chargers.


“I had him going possibly in the third round before the accident,” said Steuber. “He’s a talented guy that if he recovers fully could end up making it out there.”


Jean-Francois was another guy that Steuber had going higher than where he was picked, but he thinks the Bay area could be a good fit for the versatile defensive lineman, as well as Taylor.


“I think Ricky Jean has a good chance,” Steuber said. “I think he’s a very talented guy, but the biggest question is can he stay on the field. He had some academic issues at LSU and some injuries, but I was a little surprised that he went in the seventh round. I expected him to go a little sooner. Curtis Taylor is a good safety and I’d say he and Ricky Jean have a good chance of making a team.”


Something that surprised LSU fans was the fact that Darry Beckwith did not get drafted at all. The week preceding the draft, Beckwith said that his agent was hearing that he could go as high as the middle to late second round. When all was said and done, though, the best offer was a free agent contract with San Diego.


“When you look at the grades and value of him in a class that doesn’t have a lot of depth at linebacker he was right up there probably behind (Rey) Maualuga and (James) Laurinaitis,” said Steuber. “Jason Phillips was probably in the mix and the same with Gerald McGrath, but I think that was a good estimation (second round) heading into his senior year. Before the combine I was thinking he was a third round guy, but when I heard about the knee situation I knew that he could drop.”


The knee situation that Steuber referred to was similar to Jeremiah Trotter who was a third round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998.


“What I heard a month or two ago after the combine was that Darry didn’t check out medically and on both knees he was rubbing bone on bone,” Steuber said. “He didn’t have much lubrication in his knees and his longevity was a real concern.”


Along with Beckwith, four other Tigers signed free agent contracts on Monday in Brett Helms (Houston), Tremaine Johnson (Minnesota), Kirston Pittman (St. Louis), and Marlon Favorite (Carolina).


Every team loads up on free agents after the draft to see if there is a diamond in the rough that flew under the radar. Very few free agents end up making a roster relative to the number of guys that teams bring into camps, but one in particular has a decent chance according to Steuber.


“Brett Helms is, I think, a big wildcard in here as far as a center,” he said. “Pittman is an older guy and that probably hurt him some and then with Favorite they’re probably camp bodies. You get them in camp and see what they can do. But Helms to me is the best free agent guy for LSU.”

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