Jacksonville makes K’Lavon Chaisson its first-round draft choice

PHOTO BY JOHNATHAN MAILHES

K’Lavon Chaisson admittedly is still a “raw football talent” in many areas.

But confidence isn’t one of them.

“It’s obvious to be honest I’m the most valuable player in the draft,” Chaisson told the media at the NFL combine in February. “We all know that. You want to hire someone who speaks one language or hire somebody who speaks three languages. I speak three languages.

“I do pass rush. I can drop in coverage with anybody you want me to cover. I can the play the run and move you off the ball. That’s makes me a more dimensional player and more valuable player than anybody else in the draft.

“I can play in any system, put a blindfold on me, throw me in there and I’m ready to roll.”

Apparently, the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed with Chaisson’s self-assessment when the former LSU outside linebacker/defensive end was chosen No. 20 overall in the first round.

Chaisson, after sitting out almost all of the 2018 season after tearing an ACL in his knee, finished last year with 60 tackles (34 solo, 26 assists) and 13½ tackles for losses including 6½ sacks after missing two September games.

Against the seven ranked opponents on eventual national champion LSU’s schedule, Chaisson had 41 tackles and 11 for tackles for loss, including five sacks.

So, vs. the likes of Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson, Chaisson accounted for 68.3 percent of his tackles for the season, 81.4 percent of his tackles for losses and 76.9 percent of his sacks.

“I show up,” said Chaisson, whose two best games were against Alabama (10 tackles, 3½ TFLs) and Oklahoma (6 tackles, 2 sacks) in the College Football Playoff semifinals. “Big time players make big time plays in big time games. I never shy away. I felt like I need to be more consistent, but I showed up this year when my team needed the most.”

Chaisson hadn’t played a down of high school football when LSU offered him a scholarship in the strangest of circumstances.

In June 2015, he went to a summer football camp hosted by LSU strictly to support his friend Eric Monroe, a defensive back in which the Tigers had shown. Chaisson, who had quit football in the ninth grade to play basketball full time, had no intention of participating in the camp.

But Garrett Cross, one of his high school coaches at Houston North Shore High, who was at the camp to also support Monroe, asked Chaisson if he wanted to go run some drills.

“Go out there and show them what you’ve got,” Cross said.

Chaisson borrowed some shorts, cleats and a helmet and did some drills for then-LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Almost immediately, Orgeron summoned head coach Les Miles to watch.

As the day ended, then-LSU outside linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto told Chaisson “We’re going to offer you!” as walked Chaisson to Miles’ office.

Miles did, but it still took an eventually hard sell by Orgeron when he became the Tigers’ head coach to clinch the deal. Chaisson’s family thought he was signing with Texas.

But he didn’t and Chaisson finally appeared back in full form from the ’18 ACL surgery as last season progressed. Now, after just 24 college games, Chaisson is now a first-round draft choice.

“Everything I’ve done so far has been raw talent in my eyes,” he said. “I’ve gotten some coaching, but on a scale of 1 to 10 I’m probably at a 3 right now. There’s so much more I can get better in.

“I feel with more coaching and the veterans teaching me the game, I feel like there’s no ceiling to my game. I’m ready to accept that from anybody who’s willing to help me out.”

NFL draft expert Mike Detillier agreed Chaisson’s best football is ahead of him.

“He’ll disappear for stretches,” Detiller said of Chaisson, “but then he’ll look like All-World.”

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