Early LSU offensive depth chart prediction for 2023 season

It’s January. The 2023 kickoff is nowhere near, and we’re still months away from spring practice.

But early signing day is in the rearview, as is the bulk of the transfer portal action. The deadline to declare for the NFL draft has come and gone, and we’re starting to get an idea of what rosters will look like in the fall.

That means it’s time to take a stab at a depth-chart prediction.

LSU is returning a lot, but that doesn’t make this easy. Every offseason is filled with breakouts and it’s tough to predict who will progress and who will regress.

The quarterback spot will be talked about a lot, so let’s jump right in.

QB1: Jayden Daniels

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This won’t be without controversy, but the general rule I’m following is this: It’s [autotag]Jayden Daniels[/autotag]’ job until it isn’t.

[autotag]Brian Kelly[/autotag] affirmed Daniels’ role as the starter after the bowl game, despite [autotag]Garrett Nussmeier[/autotag] rotating in and having success early.

Daniels is a four-year starter — three at Arizona State and one at LSU. He led LSU to an SEC West title and proved to be a competent passer and an elite runner. Those traits paired together made him one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, albeit the consistency issues.

His best was really good. The way he played against Florida, Ole Miss and Alabama suggests he has what it takes to win a Heisman, but his play against Arkansas and Auburn would suggest otherwise.

I don’t think Daniels is done developing. A second year in the same system with a more experienced supporting cast could lead to significant improvement. That’s why I’m sticking with Daniels at QB1 for now.

QB2: Garrett Nussmeier

. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Nussmeier will get a fair shake at this job. His play against Georgia and Purdue was impressive and has left some fans wanting to see more.

Nussmeier has a cannon and he’s a decent athlete too. The ball rips out of his hands and he’s not afraid to take shots. The bad news: he completed just 61.9% of his passes and threw four interceptions in just 84 attempts.

A couple of those interceptions came early in the year and there’s no doubt Nussmeier is a better player now than he was then. If he were to hit the portal, he’d have plenty of suitors.

He’s a good QB and will push for the top spot. Having a quality backup behind a QB that takes as many hits as Daniels is critical and Nussmeier could be a lot more than that.

RB1: Armoni Goodwin

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It feels like forever ago, but at one point last fall, [autotag]Armoni Goodwin[/autotag] was the best running back on this roster. An injury in week four sidelined the sophomore and Goodwin missed a solid chunk of the season, briefly returned, and then was out again.

He finished the year with 267 yards on 45 carries. But of those 45 carries, five went for 15 yards or more and Goodwin was one of the top backs after contact.

Goodwin’s quick, but has the strength to run between the tackles. There’s an injury concern here but I think he’s LSU’s most talented runner.

RB2: Emery, Williams, Cain

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It’s almost pointless to make a depth chart for running backs unless there is a bonafide starter leading the room.

LSU doesn’t have that but has a stable of competent rushers. Any of these guys could emerge as LSU’s top back. With Goodwin out, we saw [autotag]Josh Williams[/autotag] breakout down the stretch.

Williams then missed time, and LSU turned to [autotag]Noah Cain[/autotag] and [autotag]John Emery Jr.[/autotag]

Williams notched two 100-yard games in 2022 and led all backs with 532 yards. Cain averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns. Emery had some of the most impressive plays, scoring big touchdowns against Auburn and Alabama.

Williams and Cain are efficient runners, and Emery provides a big-play threat. Each of these backs will see playing time this fall with an opportunity to earn a feature role.

WR1: Malik Nabers

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This goes without question.

Nabers was a 1,000 yard receiver in 2022 and is projected to be one of the SEC’s, if not the countries, best in 2023.

He led the SEC in catches with 72. He’s a guy who can work the middle of the field in the slot or take the top of a defense. He can make contested catches and run after the catch. A complete receiver.

There will be plenty of offseason hype for the rising junior as he’s expected to be a centerpiece of LSU’s offense.

WR2: Brian Thomas Jr.

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[autotag]Brian Thomas Jr.[/autotag] is a talented player who’s shown flashes his first two years in Baton Rouge.

He caught 31 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. He drew praise last offseason as one of LSU’s most improved players and came up in some big spots, including this touchdown against Florida.

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The expectation should be that Thomas continues to improve. His big-play ability is something this offense needs and his size allows QBs to throw the ball up and let him make a play.

WR3: Aaron Anderson

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Anderson was a top-five receiver in the 2022 class. The New Orleans native is transferring to LSU after one year at Alabama.

This is a talent based projection. Anderson was banged up throughout the fall and by the time he was healthy, it was too late for the true freshman to make a mark.

He didn’t catch a pass and appeared in one game. At 5-foot-9, he relies on his elite speed to make plays. A former track star, his wheels give him the ability to turn any catch into a house call.

That should help generate more explosive plays in the passing game. [autotag]Mike Denbrock[/autotag] offenses love to work the middle of the field, and having Anderson in the slot will add to LSU’s RPO game.

WR4: Kyren Lacy

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Lacy will be the veteran of the room. He’s caught 74 passes over the last three seasons, two at Louisiana and one at LSU. He’s a solid route runner on the outside and runs the comeback route with great timing.

There have been drop issues at points in his career that showed up again in 2022, but that’s a coachable issue. He didn’t catch a touchdown in 2022, but caught 10 his first two years at UL.

With [autotag]Jaray Jenkins[/autotag] gone, LSU needs a veteran it can count on in the red zone. Lacy has a chance to be that guy in the fall.

Who emerges at WR5?

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This is where it gets tricky.

LSU returns [autotag]Chris Hilton Jr.[/autotag], a speedster whose 2022 got cut short by an ACL injury. He caught seven passes in three games last fall and averages over 20 yards per catch in his short career.

LSU needs big plays and Hilton can provide them if healthy.

The Tigers are set to add talented freshmen too with [autotag]Shelton Sampson Jr.[/autotag], [autotag]Jalen Brown[/autotag] and [autotag]Kyle Parker[/autotag] arriving.

Any of these guys could fight for time. LSU’s receiver room is in a good spot.

TE1: Mason Taylor

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Taylor could be one of LSU’s top pass catchers after a promising freshmen campaign. He’s only one of three tight ends in program history to catch more than 35 passes in a season and his 414 yards were third on LSU.

He caught three touchdowns and came up in big moments against Ole Miss and Alabama.

The hype train on Taylor began before he even played a snap with Brian Kelly comparing him to Brock Bowers. He could be one of LSU’s most consistent players in 2023.

TE2: Markway, Pimpton, and McGohan

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After Taylor, LSU is lacking an experienced threat at tight end.

LSU’s 2023 class includes three tight ends, a much needed haul for Mike Denbrock’s group.

[autotag]Mac Markway[/autotag] and [autotag]Ka’Morreum Pimpton[/autotag] lead the group. Pimpton is rated the fourth-best tight end in the class by On3 and Markway is ranked third by ESPN. Both are four-stars on the consensus rankings.

Then there’s three-star [autotag]Jackson McGohan[/autotag], who has all the talent to emerge with the right development. Any of these three could end up as TE2 next year and it will be a battle to watch in camp.

LT: Will Campbell

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Campbell exceeded all expectations in 2022. That’s saying something, considering the hype around the true freshmen tackle was sky-high. He was one of the 10 or so best linemen in the conference this year and one of the best freshmen in America.

At 6-foot-6, he has all the tools to become an elite player at a premium position — the type of guy that could be a future top-five pick.

Campbell is already one of LSU’s best players.

LG: Miles Frazier

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

There will be competitions at both guard spots this fall, but Frazier should be considered the favorite at one of them. After transferring from Florida International, he saw time at every position except center, but Most of his action came at left guard.

He’s a good pass blocker and settled in the second half of the season. He’s talented with a good combo of size and athleticism. With some more development, he could be one of LSU’s best linemen.

C: Charles Turner

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As of now, this is Turner’s spot to lose. He took over when [autotag]Garrett Dellinger[/autotag] had snap issues and never looked back.

LSU doesn’t have many options here. Dellinger could be given another go if that’s what gets the most talented five out there. [autotag]Marlon Martinez[/autotag] and [autotag]Fitzgerald West[/autotag] are the only other players who saw time at center, but West ended up flipping to the defensive side.

Experience is key at center. The position is tasked with identifying protections and is a leader of the group. Turner has that on his resume now.

RG: Garrett Dellinger

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Dellinger has been a good player for two years running now. A sought-after recruit in 2021, he’s played everywhere but right tackle in his time at LSU.

He only allowed four pressures in 2022 but missed some time due to injury.

He’s one of the most talented players in the room and his versatility should guarantee him a good bit of time in 2023. It could be a breakout year for the former top-100 recruit and rising junior.

RT: Emery Jones

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Jones, like Campbell, was a true freshman starting at tackle. He didn’t enter with the same amount of hype, but he held his own and proved he belonged on the field.

The potential is high for any true freshman that makes that kind of impact right away. Jones is a breakout candidate in 2023.

OL Depth

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LSU’s depth on the OL took a hit in the portal.

Several guys who weren’t main contributors found other homes, but LSU, so far, held on to a couple veterans and has a stash of talented linemen in its recruiting class.

Martinez returns. He’s an option at any of the interior spots and could play center should something happen to Turner. [autotag]Kardell Thomas[/autotag] has another year of eligibility, too.

LSU’s top incoming prospect is [autotag]Zalance Heard[/autotag], a five-star tackle. It’s doubtful he’ll start at tackle, but he could be ready to contribute in some respect.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire