This year seven Louisiana college players and one Louisiana native are poised to go in the first 100 picks of the NFL Draft. Vernon Butler (DT La. Tech), Vadal Alexander (OG LSU), Jalen Mills (S LSU), Dak Prescott (QB Miss. State Haughton, La.), Kenneth Dixon (RB La Tech), Jerald Hawkins (OT LSU), Deion Jones (LB LSU) and Harlen Miller (CB SE Louisiana) are all expected to go early in this year’s draft.
This comes after the 2015 NFL Draft where seven Louisiana college players were drafted and many others were signed as undrafted free agents.
LSU had the state’s top three drafted players a year ago, as CB Jalen Mills was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round, and DE Danielle Hunter went in the third round to the Minnesota Vikings. Mills had an up and down season, whereas Hunter had six sacks as a part-time starter and looks to build on that this season. Kwon Alexander, a LB from LSU went in the fourth round and made the most impact of any of the draftees. Alexander finished second in tackles for the Tampa bay Buccaneers.
Christian Ringo from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette was picked in the sixth round and spent the entire season on the practice squad for the Green bay Packers. Three Louisiana players were drafted in the seventh round. Tauren Nixon (CB Tulane) was drafted By the Denver Broncos and looks to have a place in some sub packages this season for the World Champs. Running back Kenny Hillard of LSU was selected by the Houston Texans and spent the year on the practice squad, but with the absence of Adrian Foster, he might some time in the Texans backfield this year, and Deon Simon from Northwestern State was drafted by the Jets and although he didn’t play much, looks to have a good chance for playing this season.
Several Louisiana players were signed as undrafted players and either saw action or saw time on practice squads. Among them were Terrence McGee (RB LSU signed by the Ravens), Bryan Bennett (QB SE La. signed by the Colts), Houston Bates (LB La Tech signed by the Redskins), Sean Donnelly (OL Tulane signed by the Giants), Imoan Claiborne (S NSU signed by the Rams) and Jermuria Rasco (DE LSU signed by the Packers). But the most prolific of the undrafted players was LSU’s La’el Collins.
Collins was considered a sure-fire first round draft pick before the draft, but questions about his involvement with a murder (proven untrue) led to him going undrafted. After being cleared, Collins quickly signed with the Dallas Cowboys, changed positions from tackle to guard and ended the season as a starter on what many people feel is the best offensive line in the NFL.
The 2016 NFL Draft should have a heavy Louisiana influence, continuing a tradition that has no end in sight.