K'Lavon Chaisson performed well enough at LSU to earn what should be an early phone call on the first night of the 2020 NFL Draft, but he says he hasn't come close to reaching his potential yet. That's a scary thought…or an intriguing one for any team with the opportunity to make that call on April 23.
"Everything that I've done so far has been just raw talent, in my eyes," said Chaisson on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I've gotten some coaching, but on a scale of 1-10 I'm probably like a three right now. There's so much more I can get better at. I feel like right now, I've gotten this far just on raw talent. But the skill set – when it comes to the coaching and the veterans teaching me the game, I feel like there's no ceiling to my game."
Chaisson won't show off that raw talent on the Combine turf until Saturday night, when the defensive linemen and linebackers get their turn, but he certainly displayed a reservoir of confidence at the podium on Thursday. To wit, his instant answer when asked if he could fit in a certain NFL team's specific defensive system:
"I can fit in any system. Put a blindfold on me and just throw me in there and I'm ready to roll."
Chaisson measured in at 6-3 and 254 pounds on Wednesday, with a nearly 80-inch wingspan. He's likely to be one of the best at his position in the 40-yard dash and even at his height he should show off elite agility in other drills. No one questions his speed but he takes exception to the notion that he's just a pass-rusher and a potential liability against the run.
"I'm saying, we watch tape [and] I'm putting a bunch of guys on their tail, now," said Chaisson, getting animated early in his Q&A session. "I've got some power behind me, too. So a lot of guys, when they say I'm just speed, they obviously don't watch a lot of film. That's something I can't judge you about, but I know I'm definitely more than a one-dimensional player. I've got speed, power, finesse. Whatever you want, I've got."
Ohio State's Chase Young is widely expected to be the first pass-rusher off the board, perhaps as high as the second pick after Chaisson's former LSU teammate, quarterback Joe Burrow. Chaisson could be the next edge-rusher selected, perhaps cracking the top 10. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick 14th and could be in need of front-line help depending upon the results of free agency.
If Chaisson were ranking this year's prospects, however, he wouldn't get anywhere near the Buccaneers' pick in the middle of the round.
"It's obvious, I'm going to be honest, I'm actually the most valuable player in the draft, when it comes to that," he said. "We all know that. When you hire somebody, do you want to hire someone who speaks one language or do you want to hire someone who speaks three languages? I speak three languages – I do pass rush, I can drop in coverage and cover anybody you want me to cover, and I can play the run. No offensive linemen ever just moves me off the ball. I feel like that's what makes me even more dimensional and a better valuable player than anybody else in the draft."
Chaisson showed great promise as a true freshman in 2017 but he tore an ACL in the 2018 opener and ended up taking a redshirt year. As a redshirt sophomore this past fall, he compiled 60 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The 20-year-old clearly improved as the season went along. He had 3.5 tackles for loss against Alabama, logged a sack in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia and was the MVP of LSU's Peach Bowl win over Oklahoma with six tackles and two sacks. That win put LSU in the title game against Clemson, and Chaisson was dominant again, repeatedly invading the backfield to produce hurried throws by Trevor Lawrence.
And that was just him getting started, in his opinion. He expects to take his game to a whole new level in the NFL, which is something he is trying to impress upon NFL coaching staffs during the Combine's round of team-specific interviews. Chaisson has already had that meeting with Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers' staff and came away impressed.
"It was great," he said. "I love the coaching staff. I feel like everybody has a positive energy. I feel like around the facility it would be great as well. I got great feedback. There was a lot of coaching that was going on in there. They also wanted to find about myself but there was a lot of things I learned in that meeting, and I'm grateful for it. Hopefully I get a chance to talk to them more."