NFL Factory

Kyle Riviere
Leonard Fournette was drafted fourth overall by the Jaguars in this year's NFL Draft. Photo courtesy of

Last weekend’s NFL Draft was a great one for LSU as eight players were selected. This included three first-round picks in Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White.

The last time the Tigers had that many players drafted in the first round was back in the 2007 draft when four players heard their names called (JaMarcus Russell, LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe and Craig “Buster Davis”).

Having LSU players saturate NFL rosters is nothing new. Prior to this year’s draft, there was a record 55 former tigers in the league. No other school was better represented. Twenty-eight of the 32 teams had at least one LSU player.

In the draft itself, the Tigers had two straight seasons with nine players being drafted. Those years came in 2013 and 2014.

As an alum and a rabid LSU fan, I’m ecstatic to see so many Tigers move on to the NFL, but at the same time, it’s depressing.

There were eight players drafted this season, and guys like Arden Key and Derrius Guice are potential first-round picks in 2018. Still, with all that talent, the Tigers lost seven games in the past two seasons.

It wasn’t always like this, though.

There were times not that long ago when LSU put hordes of players into the league, and those players were all part of some of the most successful teams the program has ever seen.

Really, prior to the millennium, the school was in no way confused with a professional football factory, but then came the 2003-04 national championship team.

Ever since that team hoisted the crystal ball, LSU has been just as well-represented in the draft as any of its counterparts.

In the past 15 years, we’ve had two national title teams and another team in 2011 that went undefeated, won an SEC title and reached the championship game, before losing to Alabama.

You can debate all day about which one of these three teams was the best.

You can compare records, schedules, rankings and coaching staffs until you get blue in the face, but I’m simply looking at the stars that made up those rosters.

Which team had the best players? Which team had the biggest collection of talent?

The 2007-08 team won the SEC title and became the only team in BCS history to win the national championship with two losses as they rolled past top-ranked Ohio State, 38-24, in the title game.

Fifteen players from that team’s starting lineup went on to play in the NFL. Two of those players in East Ascension alum Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson were first-round picks.

However, only seven of the players that made it to the NFL ended up starting a significant amount of games during their careers.

There were no Pro Bowlers.

Notable players from this team were: Dorsey, Jackson, Brandon LaFell, Joseph Barksdale and Matt Flynn.

The 2011 team had one of the greatest regular seasons of all time as they beat eight ranked teams and three squads in the top three.

They won their matchups with ranked opponents by an average margin of 22 points per game.

Though they fell short of winning a title like the 2007 team, the 2011 squad was much more talented when you look at the numbers.

Eighteen key contributors from this team went on to play in the NFL, and 13 of them have started a significant amount of games.

This roster contained five first-round picks in Odell Beckham Jr., former Dutchtown star Eric Reid, Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers and Barkevious Mingo.

Overall, there have been three Pro Bowlers in Beckham (also Offensive Rookie of the Year), Reid and Tyrann Mathieu.

Notable players from this team were: Beckham, Reid, Mathieu, Brockers, Claiborne, Mingo Spencer Ware, Kevin Minter, Bennie Logan, Rueben Randle and Brad Wing.

As heralded as that team was, the 2003 national championship squad was the most talented group in school history.

This was a team that went 13-1, won the SEC title and beat Oklahoma, 21-14, in the national championship game.

The proof is in the pudding.

Twenty-two of LSU’s key contributors from that team went on to play in the NFL, and 16 of them were consistent starters.

Five were first-round picks (Joseph Addai, Michael Clayton, Marcus Spears, Landry and Bowe), and five became All-Pro (Addai, Bowe, Landry, Andrew Whitworth and Donnie Jones).

Also, this group combined for seven Super Bowl victories.

Notable players from this team were: Addai, Bowe, Whitworth, Landry, Jones, Devery Henderson, Nate Livings, Kyle Williams, Corey Webster and Randall Gay.