For the majority of the 2017 season, LSU coach Ed Orgeron had concerns in the trenches for his squad. From injuries to an overall lack of depth, a focus for 2018 will be strengthening the lines.
Senior defensive linemen Christian LaCouture and Greg Gilmore are departing for the NFL draft, leaving two open starting spots on the defensive line.
LaCouture and Gilmore both started in all 13 games for the Tigers, and were leaders for the defense as a whole. They combined for 119 total tackles, 13.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.
The Tigers will also be losing senior Frank Herron, who provided good depth at defensive tackle and most likely would have been a bigger contributor if he hadn’t missed the first six games due to injury.
Sophomore Rashard Lawrence will be the lone returning starter to the line, leaving two starting spots open. The Tigers will more than likely also need at least a few other significant contributors on the defensive line, as the players on the line tend to get banged up throughout the season.
A transfer from Texas Tech, junior Breiden Fehoko has a lot to prove in his first season playing for the Tigers. Fehoko had to sit out for the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but is primed to compete for a starting role on the defensive line.
Fehoko was highly recruited out of high school, being a consensus four-star prospect, and one of the top defensive linemen in his class. He started all 25 games in his two years at Texas Tech, and certainly has the talent to be a starter in the 2018 season.
Sophomore Ed Alexander battled Gilmore during last year’s spring training for the starting tackle position, and Gilmore ultimately won.
With that being said, Alexander played in 10 games and started one during the 2017 season, and will be one of the more experienced linemen returning alongside Lawrence.
Coming from the junior college ranks, junior Travez Moore was one of the top overall JUCO prospects for the class of 2018, and the top defensive end prospect.
Moore has great size at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds and gained invaluable experience playing in the college ranks (albeit at the junior college level).
Moore should be more prepared for college play compared to incoming freshmen, and could challenge Fehoko for the starting end spot opposite of Lawrence.
The Tigers will have an abundance of talented freshmen defensive linemen for the 2018 season, signing four four-star prospects this recruiting season.
Just to name a few, Davin Cotton, Chasen Hines and Jarell Cherry are all top-20 prospects at their respective positions, defensive tackle and defensive end, and will certainly compete for playing time if they impress at spring training.
Overall, there should be plenty of talent on the defensive line, but with only a few experienced linemen returning from last year, how it all shakes out will remain in question for the foreseeable future.