The biggest names in LSU’s star-studded junior class may be on the verge of officially entering the NFL draft.
ESPN.com cited sources in reporting Sunday that defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, along with defensive tackle Bennie Logan, had decided to enter the draft and would make their formal announcements in unison.
A source told The Advocate that Mingo selected an agent and Montgomery was interviewing agents. Any underclassmen who signs with an agent would forfeit his remaining eligibility. LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette did not return a message seeking comment.
Mingo and Montgomery generally are considered sure-fire first-round picks if they forgo their final year of eligibility. The departure of the three defensive linemen would bring the number of early entrants from LSU to a record eight — not counting former cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team in August and has hired an agent.
Most of the attrition will be on defense: Middle linebacker Kevin Minter — the team’s MVP this season — consensus All-America safety Eric Reid and cornerback Tharold Simon have declared. The other early entrants are running back Spencer Ware and punter Brad Wing, who was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Clemson and is the only redshirt sophomore in the group.
Safety Craig Loston and running back Michael Ford are believed to be considering entering the draft early, too. The deadline for declaring is Jan. 15.
None of the early declarations comes as a surprise, especially those of Mingo and Montgomery. Nonetheless, LSU is facing a major rebuilding task on defense, which has been the primary factor in the Tigers winning 34 games in the past three seasons.
Mingo, Montgomery and Logan were the team’s most productive defensive linemen. The fourth starter, tackle Josh Downs, and the third end, Lavar Edwards, were seniors this season, as was end Chancey Aghayere.
The defensive linemen slated to return made three starts, all by sophomore tackle Anthony Johnson. Only linebackers Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones and Loston potentially remain among players who were projected defensive starters at the start of preseason camp.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last month that he had Mingo rated the No. 6 overall prospect if he were to come out, and he had Montgomery at No. 21. Neither had eye-popping statistics this season, but their potential caught the eyes of the NFL’s talent evaluators.
Mingo had 8.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks, after posting 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season. Kiper cited Mingo’s “tremendous potential as a pass rusher” and his versatility in being able to rush as a down lineman or from an upright position as being especially attractive to NFL teams.
Montgomery had 13 tackles for loss, including eight sacks. Kiper said Montgomery was a “great college player” but not as skilled as Mingo.
Defensive line is considered one of the deepest positions in this year’s draft, but Mingo and Montgomery are projected to be among the best.
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