INDIANAPOLIS — If there were any questions about LSU’s K'Lavon Chaisson's passion for the game of football, you can be sure to put them to bed now. Chaisson oozed confidence at his 2020 NFL Scouting Combine press availability but did so while also walking a fine line by repeatedly acknowledging his thirst for knowledge and his endless quest for improvement.
"I'm a three out of 10 right now," Chaisson claimed Thursday when asked how he'd grade himself versus his ultimate potential. "I've been getting by on raw talent."
If this is what Chaisson looks like at less than half of full capacity, imagine what the final product looks like. Chaisson's resume isn't without its warts, but his response to doubters and skeptics who point to his sack production or any potential one-dimensional dynamics of his play is simple.
Check the tape.
Chaisson repeatedly returned back to that phrase, again and again, imploring anyone who doubts his viability as an every-down player and impact defender to actually watch his reps from the 2019 season — insisting the answers lie within.
"If you're saying that [I'm just a speed guy], you haven't been watching the film," Chaisson said. "That's fine, I won't judge you for it."
Maybe he should. Chaisson's film is littered with forklifts, long-arms and speed to power conversion against much heavier men.
This wasn't a sack. But it's clearly a win, just one that doesn't show up in the stat sheet. Chaisson hasn't been able to rack up massive sack numbers through his career at LSU. But if you watch his play it's quickly clear that every tackle he faced felt the heat.
"I'm not just a pass rusher,” Chaisson said. “I affect games anyway. I play the run. Stunt games...I'm playing in coverage, I'm chasing down plays. I'm an all-around player. To label me and only going by my sack production, but you can also look at even if I'm not getting sacks. My pressures, my hurries, I'm always in the quarterback's face and being felt.
"Any offensive lineman I went against will tell you they felt my presence so I'm not really worried about the production stats."
Neither should you. Because, as Chaisson said, he's felt frequently. There's a comparison to be made here, one to a former first overall pick in the NFL draft: 2014's top selection Jadeveon Clowney.
The comparison to Clowney feels like an obvious one when you consider his ability to influence the game in the box, create pressure from a two-point stance, playing off the football on the second level as a blitzer, maneuvering run gaps and playing assignment defense and complimentary football.
Sure, Clowney passed through the 2014 combine with an extra 10 pounds on his frame and a bit of extra length in his frame, but the playstyle is similar and the LSU star should be given the same concessions with his usage at the pro level in order to produce a similar impact. Clowney, to his credit, is poised to cash in on the free-agent market despite a lack of sack production of his own; admitting that his objective is to reset the pass-rusher market with his new contract. Whether or not Clowney gets that deal or not is yet to be determined, but he'll get that consideration despite, like Chaisson, not posting the kind of sack numbers that typically define pass rushers.
The unique piece of Chaisson's film resume, which speaks just as convincingly as Chaisson himself does on his own behalf, is that he brings even more versatility to the field — and arguably more polish as a pass rusher.
"It's obvious,” he said. “I'm going to be honest, I'm actually the most valuable player in this draft. And we all know that. When you hire somebody, do you want to hire someone who speaks one language? Or do you want to hire somebody that speaks three languages? I speak three languages.
"I can pass rush, drop in coverage and cover anybody you want me to cover, and I can play the run. No offensive lineman will ever just move me off the ball and bully me."
A quick check of the tape will reveal no lies detected from Chaisson. He is indeed a triple threat. And he'll challenge you big time as a pass rusher.
And in coverage.
And playing the run.
Does that make him the most valuable player in the 2020 NFL Draft, as he claims himself to be? That's yet to be determined. But after hearing Chaisson tell off the doubters today at the combine, I'm not sure I want to be on that side of the fence. I'll let his tape do the talking, which is exactly how Chaisson would like it.
Because the tape is pretty damn good.