The College Football National Championship Game pits two undefeated teams in defending champion Clemson Tigers against the current top-ranked LSU Tigers in New Orleans on Monday night.
Not only will Tampa Bay fans be looking forward to a great game against two college football juggernauts this year to end the college football season, they will also be looking at the game for future Buccaneers players.
General manager Jason Licht has had his hand in drafting several LSU players, most recently linebackers Devin White (2019), Kendell Beckwith (2017) and Kwon Alexander (2015) in Tampa Bay, in addition to linebacker Kevin Minter (2013) and safety Tyrann Mathieu (2013) in Arizona with head coach Bruce Arians. White and Minter played in Tampa Bay last year along with LSU wide receiver Cyril Grayson and offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins.
Licht also signed former Clemson wide receiver Adam Humphries as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and current punter Bradley Pinion and tight end Jordan Leggett also played at Clemson.
So which new Tigers might Licht and Arians want to add to Tampa Bay’s roster in the 2020 NFL Draft? Well forget LSU’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. The Ohio native seems destined to return to his home state and play for a QB-starved team like Cincinnati, which has the first overall pick in the draft. And Clemson’s star quarterback Trevor Lawrence is only a true sophomore and won’t be eligible for the NFL Draft until 2021.
Here is a look at 10 Tigers – four from Clemson and six from LSU – that could interest the Bucs in the 2020 NFL Draft:
Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons – 6-4, 230 – Junior
Is he a strong safety or is he a linebacker at the NFL level? Simmons was the Butkus Award winner for the top linebacker in the nation with 97 tackles and six sacks, but Clemson also had him play a rover safety position where he broke up six passes and picked off three more. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds with great speed, Simmons could play either spot, and the Bucs could use more size in the secondary and another blitzer, too. Simmons is considered a Top 15 prospect.
Clemson RB Travis Etienne – 5-10, 210 – Junior
Etienne is a well-built, fast, electric runner that lacks power, but has good contact balance to slip tackles. He has back-to-back seasons of over 1,500 yards and has 55 rushing touchdowns. Etienne has really improved as a receiver, catching 32 passes this year for four touchdowns and is a three-down back in the NFL. He currently carries a late first- or early second-round grade, and the Bucs could use a pass-catching complement to Ronald Jones II.
Clemson CB A.J. Terrell – 6-1, 190 – Junior
Terrell isn’t a first-round cornerback prospect like LSU’s Kristian Fulton is, but he could be had in the second round if Tampa Bay wanted to add another long, rangy cornerback to its stable. Terrell excels in press-man coverage and will have his hands full against LSU wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. Terrell has six career INTs, including two this season, along with 10 pass breakups.
Clemson S Tanner Muse – 6-2, 230 – Senior
Muse is a big safety with good athleticism and play-making ability, evidenced by four interceptions this year and seven in his Tigers career. He mainly played deep as a single-high safety, but can also blitz, as he had four sacks at Clemson. The Bucs don’t have a rock solid starter at either safety position entering 2020 and could use more talent and depth there. Muse is a Day 3 option.
LSU S Grant Delpit – 6-3, 203 – Junior
Delpit is a long, rangy safety that makes plays with great intelligence and technique. He’s an okay tackler, but not a physical force like former LSU safety Jamal Adams was. The Jim Thorpe Award winner had two interceptions and one sack after recording five sacks and five interceptions as a sophomore. If the Bucs want a ball-hawking safety, Delpit would be an ideal choice at No. 14 in the first round.
LSU OLB K’Lavon Chaisson – 6-4, 250 – Redshirt Sophomore
Chaisson is coming off a torn ACL in 2018 and has had a nice, bounce-back season as an edge rusher. He has decent speed to power and has recorded 6.5 sacks in 2019. He’s a fast athlete whose stock is rising and could be a Top 20 draft pick. Teams like Tampa Bay can never have enough pass rushers.
LSU DT Rashard Lawrence – 6-2, 310 – Senior
Lawrence is a very stout run stuffer, but has enough flash in his game to play on third downs, too. Lawrence recorded 2.5 sacks this year after having four in 2018, including two against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. He’s a vocal, energetic defender with a big enough frame that likely warrants drafting between rounds 3-5. Lawrence could be groomed to replace Ndamukong Suh in Tampa Bay.
LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 5-8, 209 – Junior
Edwards-Helaire is a very good running back that is well-rounded and can run and catch the ball, evidenced by 1,304 yards and 16 rushing TDs and 50 catches for 399 yards and a TD this season. He shows good toughness and quickness, but lacks truly special qualities. The Bucs will be looking for a complementary back to pair with Ronald Jones III and Edwards-Helaire could be an option in rounds 3-4.
LSU OL Lloyd Cushenberry III – 6-4, 315 – Junior
Cushenberry is a raw center with a decent upside. He needs to work on technique and can struggle with one-on-one blocks, but excels on double-teams. The LSU lineman projects to guard at the next level and could be a third- or fourth-round pick. The Bucs could use more talent along the offensive line.
LSU WR Justin Jefferson – 6-3, 192 – Junior
While he’s not a burner, Jefferson has good functional speed and athleticism, and played opposite with Ja’Marr Chase. He caught 102 passes for 1,434 yards and 18 TDs this season. If the Bucs are looking for a No. 3 receiver, Jefferson would be a steal in the third round if he lasts that long.