Glenn Gilbeau / GANNETT LOUISIANA
BATON ROUGE – Through the first 50 picks of the NFL Draft Thursday and Friday, only one LSU player had been selected – wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. by the New York Giants. That was the fewest over that span since 2011.
Then they came in bunches. Defensive tackle Ego Ferguson went as the 19th pick of the second round and 51st overall to the Chicago Bears and became the 300th all-time LSU draft choice since the first draft in 1936 when Abe Mickal went to Detroit in the sixth round. Ferguson came on strong late last season and bested his teammate – the more highly touted defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who is expected to be picked Saturday when the fourth through seventh rounds complete the 2014 NFL Draft.
A junior from Mims, Fla., Ferguson had 85 tackles in his career with five sacks. He went higher than most draft experts projected and apparently was not hurt by a mysterious suspension for the Outback Bowl last season. Ferguson was not with the team in Tampa, Fla., for bowl preparations or for the game, and neither Ferguson nor LSU coach Les Miles ever explained exactly why.
Four picks later, tailback Jeremy Hill of Baton Rouge was selected as the 23rd pick of the second round and 55th overall to Cincinnati. Hill also overcame controversy off the field as he was arrested and charged with violent crimes over the last few years – the first one while at Redemptorist High in 2010 and the second last spring. Despite missing one game and one quarter last season on a disciplinary suspension, Hill gained 1,401 yards and was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team last season.
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry was next as the 31st pick of the second round and 63rd overall to Miami. He was one of 12 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds. Landry, known for acrobatic catches more than his speed, had better statistics than Beckham as he caught 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.
Ferguson, Hill, Landry and Beckham all left LSU after their junior seasons. Offensive guard Trai Turner left after his sophomore season and third year on campus and was picked with the 28th selection of the third round and 92nd overall by Carolina. Miles tried hard to convince Turner to remain at LSU after the 2013 season.
Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger was not picked Friday after being projected as a second round pick. News that his drug test before the NFL Combine being flagged for diluted urine broke early this week.
Other LSU players expected to be picked Saturday include Mettenberger, fullback J.C. Copeland, linebacker Lamin Barrow, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and safety Craig Loston. Tailback Alfred Blue has a chance to go in the seventh round.