By Mark Clements | LSU Reveille
After the six-year streak of LSU players taken in the first round of the NFL draft came to an end last year, Patrick Peterson all but guaranteed the Tigers will be back on the board in 2011.
Peterson stole the show Tuesday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine, solidifying himself as the top-rated defensive back and arguably top-rated player in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Despite predicting a sub-4.3 40-yard dash, Peterson ran it in 4.34 seconds, ranking second among all participants. He added that to other impressive numbers — 38-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-6-inch broad jump and a 4.07-second 20-yard shuttle — all of which rank in the top nine among defensive backs.
"One thing's for sure – he was my top-rated player going into this, and he's my top rated player coming out," said local NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier. "There's nothing he's done that is going to hurt him."
Detillier also dispelled recent rumors that the consensus top-five pick would make the switch from cornerback to safety at the next level.
"If there was any questions about if he's going to play safety because of his lack of great foot speed, I think it got answered today."
Seven other Tigers made the trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, running, jumping and lifting their way up NFL scouts' draft boards.
Detillier called wide receiver Terrence Toliver a fourth-round selection in the draft and listed him as one of the two Tigers with the most to gain from the combine, focusing on the speed drills.
Toliver put up some of the best numbers among all receivers this weekend, ranking third in the 3-cone drill with a time of 6.48 seconds and fourth in the 20-yard shuttle at 4.03 seconds.
"I thought I ran pretty fast, but I know I can run faster than that," said Toliver, who ran a 4.59 40-yard dash. "I'm hoping I'm able to run at the Pro Day again."
While Toliver's outing stood out among wide receivers, Detillier said the biggest stock increase of any LSU player came from linebacker Kelvin Sheppard.
"I think Kelvin probably of any of them probably helped himself out a little bit more because his athleticism showed up a little bit better than most people thought," Detillier said.
Sheppard put up 22 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, which ranks 13th among linebackers, along with a 33 1/2 inch vertical jump, ranking 11th.
But Detillier said even more than his athletic showing, Sheppard passed his off-the-field tests with flying colors.
"They were very impressed with his one-on-one interviews, and that's not a shock," Detillier said. "He's going to come across as a real team leader and a real sharp guy, and that helped him out."
One question that still remains surrounds the draft status of kicker Josh Jasper.
Only nine kickers have been drafted in the last five years, and with just two months left before draft day, Jasper has been doing all he can to make a bigger name for himself and boost his draft stock.
"They know I can kick field goals, and I know I can kick field goals," said Jasper, who is the only consensus All-America placekicker in LSU history. "I'm just trying to show off my leg strength a little bit more with the kickoffs, and I think I did that."
Detillier said Jasper's showing may have been enough to make him a late round draftee.