LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson and running back Jeremy Hill were selected within four picks of each other in the second round of the NFL draft Friday night.
The Chicago Bears used the 51st pick to select Ferguson, who didn’t start until his junior season of 2013, and the Cincinnati Bengals used the 55th pick to grab Hill, who played at Redemptorist High School.
The Miami Dolphins used the second-to-last pick in the round (63rd overall) to grab Tigers receiver Jarvis Landry, and guard Trai Turner became the fifth LSU player drafted when the Carolina Panthers took him in the third round at No. 92. The four Friday picks joined Tigers receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was selected by the New York Giants with the 12th pick in the first round Thursday, and Thibodaux High product Greg Robinson, a tackle out of Auburn who was the No. 2 pick by the St. Louis Rams, as the first Louisiana players drafted. All six are underclassmen.
Ferguson, 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds, was the third defensive tackle taken Friday and the fifth selected in the draft. He had 58 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and one sack, last season after being current Philadelphia Eagles tackle Bennie Logan’s understudy.
He did not travel to LSU’s Capital One Bowl game against Iowa because of a violation of a team rule and didn’t participate in the NFL Scouting Combine because of a high ankle sprain.
But Ferguson apparently made an impression on Bears coach Marc Trestman and first-year defensive line coach Paul Pasqualone during a private workout in Chicago last month.
“I think this is the perfect opportunity with the perfect team,” Ferguson said Friday night. “(Pasqualone) brought me into his office and we talked ball for a long time. He asked me if I could play (nose tackle), and I told him that’s what I want. I feel like I can definitely get after the quarterback. I think I have a lot of upside. I don’t think a lot of people realize how athletic I am.”
Hill rushed for 1,401 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry as a sophomore last season.
“I think I’m the most complete back in this draft,” Hill said. “I can do it all.”
At 6-foot and 233 pounds, Hill gives Bengals first-year offensive coordinator Hue Jackson a powerful complement to elusive Giovani Bernard, who emerged as a starter after being drafted in the second round last year.
“He’s not Giovani Bernard, but we’re not going to ask him to be that,” Jackson said. “He knows how to run the power play. He knows how to run downhill. He’s a physical runner.
“He’s a three-down back. You want someone who can run, pass-protect for the quarterback and make huge plays. He’s done that. He showed at his Pro Day that he can catch the ball. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Cincinnati apparently envisions Hill, who had 16 rushing touchdowns last season, as an eventual replacement for veteran power runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is entering the last year of his contract in 2014.
“Jeremy Hill is a very, very talented young runner,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “He had an outstanding career at LSU. He came out as one of the most versatile runners, both big and strong with the ability to make people miss and the ability to catch the football. He was used in an offense at LSU that will mirror a lot of things that are done in the NFL.
“We really feel like he comes here with a skill set and the knowledge of the offensive game that will enable him to be productive early in his career here.”
Hill was the second running back drafted despite some off-the-field issues. He did not play in the Tigers’ opener against TCU last season after being reinstated from a suspension.
He was suspended after being arrested for his role in a fight outside a Tigerland bar in April 2013. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor simple battery for the incident, which occurred a year after Hill was placed on probation after pleading guilty as a high school senior to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a minor.
Lewis said he and his staff “have a lot of confidence in the people we know inside the LSU program,” including head coach Les Miles, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, running backs coach Frank Wilson and administrator Steve Kragthorpe.
Turner, who played at St. Augustine High, became a starter at right guard midway through his redshirt freshman season in 2012 and was a fixture on the line as an exceptional run blocker the next 11/2 seasons.
The draft resumes at 11 a.m. Saturday and will conclude with rounds four through seven. Several other Louisiana players are expected to be selected, including four more LSU players — quarterback Zach Mettenberger, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, linebacker Lamin Barrow and safety Craig Loston — as well as Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Justin Ellis.