The 26 best players on LSU’s 2023 roster

Spring practice is over, the transfer window is closed and teams are preparing to report for the summer.

We’re inching ever so closer to kickoff and we have a good idea of what rosters look like.

LSU has the best personnel its had in a few years. Brian Kelly assembled talent at every position.

Now, let’s rank the best 26 players on the roster. This is a fun way to get a better idea of how LSU shapes up at certain spots. In these rankings, I’ve considered everything from positional value to recruiting ranking.

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Let’s jump right in as we look at some names LSU will be counting on this fall.

Senior DE Ovie Oghoufo

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LSU is the third stop for Oghoufo. He began his career with Kelly at Notre Dame but transferred to Texas, where he’s spent the last two years.

LSU will try to replace pass rusher BJ Ojulari this fall and the addition of Oghoufo should help with that.

His 36 total pressures ranked sixth among Big 12 edge defenders last year. According to PFF, he posted a pass rush win rate of 13.2%. Not elite, but good enough.

He notched 7.5 tackles for loss, broke up three passes, and forced a fumble..


He’s a veteran and this will be his sixth year in college. That experience at big-time programs coupled with his 2022 production makes him a valuable asset this fall.

Graduate RB Josh Williams

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LSU didn’t find a feature back last year, but for a stretch, Josh Williams was the go-to.

The former walk-on emerged with 68 yards at Auburn. A few weeks later, he tallied 106 yards against Florida.

Williams appeared in big moments against Alabama and posted a career-high of 118 rushing yards the next week in Arkansas.

An injury held him to six carries in the SEC title and out of the bowl game, but he led all LSU RBs in yards on the year. His 2022 performance should earn him a spot in the rotation again assuming he’s healthy.


Junior RB Armoni Goodwin

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Goodwin’s in a similar spot to Williams. He was LSU’s top back for a moment, but an injury derailed his season.

247Sports ranked Goodwin as a top 80 recruit in 2021. The talent is obvious and when he was on the field last year, his numbers backed it up.

Among SEC ball carriers with 45+ attempts, he was second in yards after contact per attempt. Six of those 45 carries went for 10+ yards and his 5.9 yards per carry was top 10 too.

Goodwin’s injury persisted into the spring. Injuries hampered his freshman campaign too, which makes this an official concern moving forward.


He has all the tools needed to be a good back at this level, but he needs to be healthy first.

Sophomore CB Denver Harris

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Harris is a key piece of LSU’s secondary reload.

He was one of the top corner recruits in his class and flashed that talent for a stretch with Texas A&M last fall. Off-the-field issues cut his year short, leading Harris to hit the portal.

LSU jumped in, knowing Harris had LSU interest during his original recruitment.

This addition is pivotal for a couple of reasons.

Not only does Harris add much-needed talent to the secondary, but he’s still young. Last year, LSU filled the room with several veterans that are already gone. That won’t be the case with Harris as he isn’t draft-eligible until 2025.


Harris could end up being a lot higher on this list, but that’s just projecting. But he’s the most talented player in LSU’s cornerback room and the Tigers need to see that come to fruition.

Junior DE Sai'Vion Jones

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Jones will also play a role in helping replace Ojulari. He’s a former four-star who has gotten some real playing time in the last two seasons.

He recorded a sack in three of the first four games last year. In the bowl game, he posted one of his best performances with three pressures and a sack.

He’s got great size and could be ready for a year-three breakout. Jones emerging as a top pass rusher would go a long to way to cementing LSU’s defense as one of the SEC’s best.


Senior DT Jordan Jefferson

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Jefferson transfers in from West Virginia, joining a defensive tackle room that’s loaded at the top. Playing over 1,000 snaps in his time at WVU, Jefferson comes to LSU with lots of Power Five experience.

2022 was his best year yet, notching 12 pressures and three sacks from the inside. Throw in four batted passes and 18 run stops, and you have yourself a solid defensive tackle.

Jefferson won’t have to do a ton thanks to Mekhi Wingo and Maason Smith, but there’s rotational value here. He ensures that LSU will always have a plus defender up the middle on the field.


Junior CB Duce Chestnut

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Another defensive transfer here.

Chestnut began his career at Syracuse. In just two years, he played 1,403 snaps. He brings a wealth of experience to a secondary that needs it.

He’s been an above-average defender since he arrived at the college level and has four career interceptions with nine pass breakups.

If he makes another jump with LSU, we could be talking about one of the better corners in the conference.

Senior RB Noah Cain

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Prior to spring, I don’t know if Cain would have made this list. But he emerged as LSU’s top back with uncertainty hovering over the rest of the room.


Cain had a strong freshman year at Penn State before a bad injury his sophomore year led to his eventual return home to Baton Rouge. He started to look better as 2022 progressed and coaches spoke highly of what he did this spring.

Cain is a former five-star and might be the healthiest he’s been since 2019.

Junior OL Garrett Dellinger

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Dellinger played as a freshman in 2021 after he arrived as a top-100 recruit. In two years at LSU, he’s started at left tackle, left guard and center.

He missed weeks 7-11 last year with an injury but saw solid playing time down the stretch upon his return. He started the bowl game at guard and worked with the first team in the spring.


Now a junior, Dellinger has the chance to take a step forward. He’s a veteran now and that talent is still there.

His play was important for LSU these last two years and his recruitment kicked off a string of blue-chip additions on the offensive line. This is a guy with the athleticism of a tackle who could be a top guard in the SEC.

Junior RB Logan Diggs

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Diggs comes in as the top running back on this list. He’s also the newest Tiger to be included here today.

Diggs surpassed 1,000 total yards last year with Notre Dame. He’s a balanced runner, but it’s his physicality that stands out.

Despite being an in-between-the-tackles guy, Diggs is a decent pass catcher too.

Offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock’s offense should offer up a lot of carries this year and Diggs could see a sizeable portion of them.

Senior WR Kyren Lacy


Lacy’s performance this spring is a large reason why he’s up here.

Denbrock raved about the improvements Lacy made and he flashed his talent with a big play in the spring game.

Drops were an issue last year, but the Louisiana transfer looked like he belonged on an SEC field.

With Jaray Jenkins and Kayshon Boutte gone, there’s room for someone else to emerge behind Malik Nabers in LSU’s wide receiver room. Lacy has a good chance to carve out a nice role for himself.

Redshirt Junior OL Miles Frazier

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Like Lacy, Frazier transferred up from the Group of Five level last year.

He started every game except the bowl game, but even there, he still saw plenty of time. He was the first-team guard opposite of Dellinger in the spring game and projects to start there this fall.

He’s got good size and can play all over the offensive line. That makes him a critical piece for a unit still trying to sort out the puzzle.

2022 was his first time playing SEC ball and he looked good. He has the athleticism to take another step forward. If he progresses, along with the young talent LSU has on the outside, LSU’s offensive line will be one of the best in the FBS.

Junior S Major Burns

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LSU is counting on Burns this year.

With Joe Foucha gone, that safety room doesn’t have the same depth it did last year. Burns missed a significant stretch in 2022 with a neck injury, but when he was out there, he was valuable on the backend. Last September, Kelly praised Burns for his communication back there.

In nine games, he totaled 38 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and three pass breakups.

Now in his fourth year, he’s an SEC veteran after beginning his career at Georgia. LSU needs a strong performance from him this fall.

Junior WR Brian Thomas Jr.

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Brian Thomas Jr. was a blue-chip recruit who’s flashed his talent for a couple of years now.

His size makes him a formidable red-zone threat and a guy that can block down field. Some fine-tuning of the route running is required, but there were positive reports about him in spring ball.

Just like its there for Lacy, Thomas has an opportunity to become one of LSU’s top offensive weapons.

Junior LB Greg Penn III

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Penn’s place on the 2023 roster will be interesting.

LSU added to the linebacker room in the transfer portal and Harold Perkins is moving inside, but Penn started every game last year and should be in-line for plenty of time again this year.

Penn started to draw attention from the old-coaching staff in 2021. He put it all together last year, notching 11 pressures and 30 stops.

He totaled 78 tackles on the year with six of them coming for a loss.

Penn’s one of several rising juniors LSU is counting on to make a jump. He could play at the level he did last year and his spot on this list would still be deserved, but more consistency could push Penn into a different tier.

Senior LB Omar Speights

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Speights is our highest-ranked transfer on this list due to how important his addition was.

He’s a veteran inside linebacker who was all-conference at Oregon State. He should be able to slide right in and be one of LSU’s top defensive contributors.

That linebacker room is still relatively young, but Speights brings consistency.

Sophomore OL Emery Jones

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I’m doing some projecting here along with taking positional value into account.

Jones took over at right tackle in week three last year and helped stabilize LSU’s offensive line. He was just a true freshman, but he didn’t play like one.

There were moments of inconsistency and he didn’t play to the level of his freshman tackle counterpart on the left side, but Jones play was promising and good enough to get him on the top 10 of this list.

Anyone who starts at tackle as a true freshman in the SEC has a chance to become one of the best offensive linemen in the conference. Jones, a former blue-chip recruit, could be just that sooner than later.

Redshirt Sophomore QB Garrett Nussmeier


Nussmeier was one of the hardest to rank here.

He’s a quarterback who many think is ready to be one of the SEC’s best, but we’ve barely seen him play and many of the times we have, he’s thrown an interception.

But something clicked for the young quarterback late last year. He was electric against Georgia and again in the bowl game. He’s got a cannon and brings big-play potential to LSU’s offense.

For all we know, Nussmeier could barely see the field this fall. At the same time, he could be LSU’s starter by week five. It’s unpredictable right now.

Again though, positional value is considered here and a guy with Nussmeier’s talent at the QB position is a player anyone would take on their roster, putting him in LSU’s top 10.

Fifth-Year S Greg Brooks Jr.

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Brooks is the veteran leader in LSU’s secondary and maybe the entire defense.

He’s played 2,601 snaps in his collegiate career and 2023 will be his fifth year seeing solid playing time. Defensive coordinator Matt House moved Brooks around last year, using him in different ways.

He was key for a secondary desperate for experience.

When Brooks announced his return, it solidified LSU’s safety room for another year. He might not be All-American, but he’s one of the most valuable players on this roster and if he plays well, LSU’s defense will too.

Sophomore TE Mason Taylor

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As I did with Jones, there’s some projecting going on here. Taylor was a true freshman last year and by midseason, he was LSU’s go-to tight end.

Against Ole Miss and Alabama, LSU’s two biggest wins, he made several big plays that proved to be critical. That includes the two-point conversion catch that sealed the overtime victory over the Tide.

Kelly and Denbrock both love their tight ends, so a lot will be put on Taylor’s plate. The son of former NFL star Jason Taylor, he’s a true athlete.

I’d look for Taylor to make even more plays this year as his role within the offense increases.

Redshirt Sophomore DT Maason Smith

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Last year, Smith would have been even higher on this list, but an ACL tear in the opener forced him to miss the entire season.

Smith has freakish athletic ability. Someone with that size should not be able to move with that speed and force.

If he’s healthy, and by all accounts, he should be, LSU could be dominant up the middle.

Smith can rush the passer and plug the run. He’s the type of player that can elevate a defense to another level.

Junior DT Mekhi Wingo

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We’ll stick with the defensive tackles here.

Wingo transferred from Missouri last year. After Smith’s injury, he became one of LSU’s most important players. He answered the call.

Wingo was one of the SEC’s top defensive tackles all year. House moved him around too, having him stop the run up the middle and push the pocket from the edge.

He doesn’t have the same size as Smith, but his strong hands allow him to engage with any offensive linemen. There’s still room to grow too, giving Wingo a chance to be one of the FBS’s top interior defenders.

Senior QB Jayden Daniels


Kelly has made it clear. Jayden Daniels is LSU’s QB1.

Daniels is a veteran and will be entering his fifth year as an FBS starter. That’s a rare find.

He made big plays in big moments last year and his legs made him LSU’s top rusher.

His play should only improve this fall with it being his second year in the Denbrock system. The same could be said for the chemistry he’s developing with his pass catchers.

Daniels needs to create more big plays this year to take LSU’s offense to the next level, but he’s a QB with talent and experience and puts LSU in a position to compete for an SEC scoring title.

Sophomore OL Will Campbell

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Campbell blew expectations out of the water last year when he started at left tackle as a true freshman.

Now this year, he’s garnering hype as one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

Campbell is the type of player you build your offensive line around. With Campbell, LSU knows that unit has a high floor.

He’s the best offensive lineman this program’s had in some time and could be a top-five pick when the 2025 NFL draft rolls around.

Junior WR Malik Nabers

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Entering 2022, Boutte was supposed to be LSU’s No. 1 receiver.

Boutte struggled and in his place, emerged Nabers. The sophomore who showed promise in 2021 went on to lead the SEC in catches and finish second in yards.

He showed up in crucial moments in big games and earned the trust of Daniels.

Nabers can stretch the field and pluck it out of the air, but he’s just as good catching and running underneath. He’ll find holes in the zone or beat man coverage. He’s a complete wide receiver who could be in line for an even bigger 2023.

Sophomore LB Harold Perkins

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The No. 1 spot goes to Perkins.

Perkins is here not just because he’s LSU’s best player, but because he has a chance to be the best defender at the FBS level.

Last year, he did it all but primarily worked as a blitzing linebacker. House set Perkins free and waited on him to make plays in whatever fashion he could.

His closing speed is frightening and makes him almost impossible to game plan for.

Expect to see him appear in a traditional linebacker role more often this fall, but he’ll still be rushing the passer as needed.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire