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2020 NFL Draft prospect profile: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

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EDGE No. 2 in the 2020 draft class?

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Arguably the biggest need for the New York Giants is a premier EDGE rusher. Oshane Ximines, Kyler Fackrell, and Lorenzo Carter headline the position group and they had a collective 10 sacks in 2019. Giants’ nation is hoping for the advanced development of Ximines and Carter while aspiring for a resurgent 2018-like season from Fackrell. It’s safe to say that the position group is the biggest question mark on this new Patrick Graham defense.

K’Lavon Chaisson would be an excellent addition for the Giants, but is set to be drafted somewhere just outside the top 10, and well before the Giants’ 36th selection. Chaisson was a five-star recruit heading into LSU and his 2018 ACL tear slowed his inevitable upward trajectory. Chaisson possesses all the necessary athletic ability, and then some, to play EDGE. He didn’t test at the Combine and due to COVID-19, he didn’t get that opportunity to work out at a Pro Day. I promise you, if he was able to get a tangible athletic profile, he would have blown the doors off the stadium. A lot of people felt Chaisson left a lot of production on the field, and it’s hard to argue that, but LSU trusted him in such a unique role. He would routinely drop into coverage, play man, rush off the edge and was reliable against the run. Chaisson has the tools, athletic ability, and the three-down ability to succeed in the NFL. Will his lack of production force him to tumble on draft day?

Prospect: K’Lavon Chaisson (EDGE, LSU)
Games watched: at Alabama (2019), at Mississippi State (2019), vs. Clemson (2020)
Red flags: ACL tear (2018), Ankle injury: missed two games (2019)

Measurables

Stats

Games played (starts): 24 (17 started)
Tackles: 92
Tackles For a loss: 19.0
Sacks: 9.5
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 4

2019 Stats

Games played (starts): 13 (13 started)
Tackles: 60
Tackles for a loss: 13.5
Sacks: 6.5
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 2

Quick Summary

Best: Explosiveness, Flexibility, Lateral Agility, Closing Burst, Versatility, Motor
Worst: Durability, Inside Counter Moves, Playing Experience
Projection: A versatile, three-down, defender who can effectively rush the passer, play the run, and cover in space.

Game Tape

Full Report

Chaisson has solid size and excellent athletic ability highlighted by superb lateral agility, explosiveness, twitch and impressive bend in his lower half. His change of direction ability is just off the charts. Chaisson effortlessly sticks his foot in the ground and transfers momentum in his desired direction. Chaisson is smart and handled a lot of different responsibilities in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 Under based defense. He gives effort and displays excellent competitive toughness.

There’s a misconception that Chaisson can’t play the run. Chaisson has good anchor down ability and he locks tackles out to set a firm edge. He earns inside hand placement and gets his head around solid sized tackles to see running plays develop. Chaisson uses his lateral agility and ability to “get skinny” through gaps to squeeze interior rushing lanes by shooting the B-Gap with speed and explosiveness. He is not afraid to challenge pulling linemen in space and maintains good positioning to either spill or box the ball carrier to teammates. Chaisson is a very good tackler. In space, Chaisson throws his body at ball carriers and delivers a crushing shoulder shot to opponents.

Chaisson possesses an incredibly quick first step and is very sudden in his movements. He gets hip to hip on tackles with ease and utilizes excellent bend to corner towards the pocket and swivel his hips to the quarterback. He bends through contact well at the top of the arc, and he can convert speed to power with a firm long arm/lower body drive, after opening a tackle up with speed. His combination of burst, flexibility, active hands and suddenness is so dangerous for tackles.

Chaisson does a good job standing up and covering running backs out of the backfield in man while showing an ability to drop into zone and cover effectively. A smooth mover, he can cover ground effectively in the short to intermediate phases of the passing attack. He doesn’t get lost in zone coverage and trusts his eyes well. Chaisson is a true three-phase defender who puts himself into a position to disrupt passing lanes.

Chaisson could use more pop in his hands versus the run and can stand to add more to his frame to improve overall functional strength. He needs to get a bit better keeping bigger linemen off his frame, and utilizing his length. He must develop better inside counter moves when rushing the passer. He could be a better improviser with his pass-rushing moves, mid-snap, and could do a better job selling what he’s doing during a pass rush; usually combines the same moves and could be a bit predictable for tackles. Recent injuries are a concern, as is his overall lack of production. Overall, Chaisson is an incredibly talented and intriguing prospect that teams would love to add to their defense.

Overall Grade: 6.8 - Talented prospect with above-average physical and positional traits in almost all areas. He’s a likely rookie starter with expectations of becoming a good NFL starter, who ranks in the top 10 of his position. [Grading Scale]

Projection

Chaisson initially projects as an excellent No. 2 option at pass rusher but would be the No. 1 option on the Giants. Will be maximized next to a top-level pass rusher in Year 1. By Year 3, Chaisson should be the No. 1 pass rusher on his team, with the upside to develop into a Pro-Bowler. It’s hard to ignore the three defensive phase ability to be able to get after the quarterback and disrupt, stop the run and set the edge, and being able to drop into coverage. His athleticism, motor, and pass-rushing repertoire are already at an NFL level, albeit he could use more inside counter. He played in LSU’s 3-4 Under defense, where he was utilized in two-point, three-point, and four-point stances, mostly on the weak-side of the formation, next to the 3-technique in base defense. His best fit in the NFL would be as an outside linebacker in a multiple 3-4 front.