As expected, junior safety Jamal Adams announced on Friday that he will forego his senior season with LSU Football to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
Adams finishes his career as a Tiger with 209 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, 15 pass break ups, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in three seasons. This past season, he was a permanent team captain, a first team All-America selection by CBS Sports and Pro Football Focus, a second team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association and the AP, was named a first team All-SEC player by the AP and second team All-SEC by the Coaches poll.
Without a doubt, Adams has cemented himself as one of the most talented defensive backs to play at LSU, and will keep the “DBU” trend alive at the next level. However, his departure does raise one question: who will fill the void at safety for the Tigers? Here are four possibilities. (The year shown is what the player will be during the 2017-2018 season.)
Eric Monroe, Sophomore
A freshman this year from North Shore High School in Houston, Texas, Monroe was one of the top safety prospects in the nation in the 2016 recruiting class. He was rated the fifth-best safety in the country by ESPN and was a consensus four-star recruit (ESPN, Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports). Watching him on tape, Monroe has all of the physical characteristics needed to be a prime-time safety, like Adams before him. He has incredible closing speed, is tough and physical, has great coverage abilities and instincts, and may just be the primary contender to start in Adams’ place next season for defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Monroe made a brief appearance against Jacksonville State this year, meaning he will be a true sophomore, but still has two-three years of solid production and big-time potential to burn.
Cameron Lewis, Freshman (RS.)
Another highly-touted defensive back from the 2016 class, Lewis did not appear in a game this year meaning he will still be a freshman as far as eligibility goes. While not as highly ranked as Monroe, he was still a four-star prospect according to Rivals, 247 Sports, and ESPN. He was a two-way star in high school at quarterback and defensive back, and was a three-year starter at the former position. Now, at LSU, he is slated to play in the secondary, and could find himself vying for time at the open safety spot. Don’t be surprised if you see both Monroe AND Lewis play at the position next year, perhaps even both start. They are both extremely talented players, however at “DBU”, there’s always talent on the back end, and Lewis could see himself challenged for time by one of a few extraordinary true freshmen.
JaCoby Stevens, Freshman
A five-star recruit and the nation’s top safety, according to 247 Sports, Stevens brings big-play abilities and size that would make defensive coaches drool over. At first glance, you see the type of player who is able to play very physically just as Adams did, as Stevens is 6-1 and 200 pounds, but after watching him play, you can see that he has tremendous length which helps him in coverage. For a safety, he has very good man coverage skills, and his ability to break on the ball is noticeable. Rivals.com put out an analysis video when they rated Stevens as a five-star prospect, and they show similar praise. Even as a true freshman, Stevens should and will compete for a starting safety job, and fans will be impressed from the start at his abilities.
Grant Delpit, Freshman
Delpit gives LSU two of the nation’s top three safeties for the 2017 class, and brings similar praise. I mentioned the size that Stevens brings to the table, but Delpit is even more lengthy at a whopping 6-3 as a safety. Although he is lighter than Stevens, he still brings a relentless physicality to the fold, and his frame allows him to play balls that would normally be out of reach. Along with his physical gifts, his ability to play the ball in the air is seen easily watching him dart all across the field, much like Adams did. Both freshmen enroll early at LSU, and there’s a chance that both could see time at safety in their first year, perhaps even starting together if Monroe and/or Lewis don’t pan out.
Regardless of who fills the spot initially, it is needless to say that LSU is absolutely loaded with talent on the back end of their secondary, per usual, and fans shouldn’t fret with the specifics of who exactly gets the start. All four players mentioned have chances to be playmakers for the Tigers, and with all the talent that exists in the young safeties, the position will be solid at LSU for years to come.