BATON ROUGE -- A record number of LSU football players are expected to take the jump to the professional ranks starting Thursday as the NFL will holds its annual draft beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
This year's NFL Draft has been expanded from two days to a three-day event with rounds two and three taking place at 5 p.m. CT on Friday. Rounds four through seven will be held on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. CT. All seven rounds of the draft will be televised on ESPN.
LSU goes into the 2010 NFL Draft with as many as 12 Tigers from the 2009 team having a shot at getting selected. Currently, the LSU record for draft picks in a single season came in 1948 when eight Tigers were picked. Since the NFL went to a seven round draft in 1994, the record for most Tigers picked has been seven, which has been done three times - 2004, 2006 and 2008.
"We develop our guys," Miles said. "We develop them in the classroom, on the football field and in the weight room. We recruit guys that have the potential to play at that next level. When you spend the time that we do pursuing a championship and playing for excellence, it prepares that young man for the next level.
"It's an obvious example of a piece of LSU that we're having success with. Our guys are going to the NFL, our guys are playing in the NFL and our guys will be drafted. I want to say we had 48 guys on an NFL roster last season, so it appears to be working."
Last year, LSU had six players picked in the draft, including the No. 3 overall selection in Tyson Jackson, making him the highest selected defensive player in school history. The Tigers also had a pair of fifth round picks, and three seventh round selections last year.
Since arriving t LSU in 2005, Miles has seen 25 Tigers go in the draft, which includes seven first rounders. The 25 NFL picks for the Tigers over the past four years is the second-highest total over that span in school history, trailing the 27 selected from 1987-90 when the draft went 12 rounds. Under Miles, LSU had seven players picked in both 2007 and 2008 with six going last year and five going in 2007.
LSU goes into the 2010 NFL Draft with college football's longest streak of first round selections at six consecutive years. LSU has had at least one first round draft pick going back to the 2004 draft when Michael Clayton was taken No. 15 overall by Tampa Bay. In 2007, a record four Tigers were picked in the first round including the No. 1 overall selection in quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
Among the first Tigers expected to hear their name called this weekend include safety Chad Jones, wide receiver Brandon LaFell, and defensive tackle Al Woods. Jones, a tremendous all-around athlete who left school with one year of eligibility remaining, has been tabbed anywhere from last in the first round to the third round.
Woods turned heads at the combine with an outstanding performance, which included a vertical leap of 37 inches and a 40-yard dash time of 5.12. As a result, Woods has jumped up the draft boards and could go as high as the second round. LaFell, who left LSU as one of the school's all-time leaders in receiving, has been targeted anywhere from last first round to the third round.
Rounding out the list of 2009 Tigers who have been projected to go in this year's NFL Draft include: running back Charles Scott, running back Keiland Williams, return specialist Trindon Holliday, tight end Richard Dickson, offensive tackle Ciron Black, cornerback Chris Hawkins, linebacker Perry Riley, defensive end Rahim Alem, defensive tackle Charles Alexander and linebacker Jacob Cutrera.
"The thing that always happens with us is that they translate the speed of the (NFL) game very comfortably," Miles said. "Guys that come from LSU understand the game. They've played on the highest level. There will be no distractions. They understand how to play. The NFL is a very fast league, and I think our guys play that way."