After the Jacksonville Jaguars tabbed C.J. Henderson with their first selection in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the team turned to pick No. 20, with plenty of talent still available at the spot.
With former LSU Tiger, now Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, remaining on the board, the Jaguars opted to go in a different direction, picking a former Tiger but on the defensive side of the football in outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson, a pass rush specialist who could be the eventual replacement for disgruntled defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Following the selection, Chaisson spoke to the Jaguars’ local media via a Zoom video conference call to answer questions, first stating how excited he is to be a Jaguar.
“Thank you for the opportunity that [Jaguars owner] Mr. [Shad] Khan gave me,” the former LSU Tiger said. “Everything about this process has been wonderful so far, Coach Marrone and Dave Caldwell as well. I’m excited man! Ready to get going!”
Chaisson, 6-foot-3, 254-pounds, brings an interesting dynamic to the Jaguars’ defense. Able to play outside linebacker and rush out of a two-point stance, cover players out of the backfield, or rush the passer as a down lineman, the versatility he possess is unique, and combined with his athleticism, Chaisson feels he brings something different to the Jaguars’ defense.
“I obviously I feel like my best spot right now is rushing the quarterback,” he said. “I feel like when all in doubt put me in and I’ll get to the quarterback.”
Chaisson has been pegged similarly to how teams could have viewed linebacker Isaiah Simmons who went prior to his selection, a player that is a jack of all trades. However, Chaisson uniquely compared himself to Kansas City Chiefs, and former LSU Tiger defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
“I play like him and you never know where he’s at on the field,” Chaisson said after clarifying that he’s not just like Mathieu himself. “He plays different positions: back end, corner, safety or whatever the case may be.”
Chaisson says he didn’t have many conversations with the Jaguars, besides during the NFL Combine earlier this year, and felt as though with Allen and other players such as Ngakoue in tow, perhaps they didn’t need him, but clearly they saw something in him.
At LSU, Chaisson accumulated 60 tackles (46 solos), 9.5 sacks, and 19 tackles for loss in 24 games played, missing his sophomore season due to a torn ACL. Due to his injury, and being so young (20 years old), Chaisson had to focus more on getting stronger, and faster, allowing his natural athletic ability to do the rest last season.
“I feel like I can impact, (even) if you put me at guard, ha, or center,” he joked. “That’s just who I am, you know what I’m saying. But I just feel like they made a great decision when it came to choosing me. I feel like I’m just the best player when it comes to physical characteristics, mental – mentally, football IQ, just all around.”
Prior to the draft, Chaisson leaned on former LSU Tiger, and current Jaguars receiver DJ Chark Jr. for guidance, saying that Chark is his “guy”, something he holds a great deal of respect for. “(He was) just wishing me the best of luck and just telling me how patience, obviously it’s the draft and it can start looking real quick and things can get out of hand, but we speak a lot.”
Having someone with a familiar face could help the transition for any rookie, and the Jaguars have two now in Chaisson and cornerback C.J. Henderson who has ties to right tackle Jawaan Taylor.
The pairing of Chaisson and Taylor could prove to be special; a cornerback’s best friend is oftentimes his pass rushers, something the outside linebacker feels is what makes the two selections so great.
“I watched (Henderson’s) game as well and he’s an exceptional player obviously,” he explained. “We played against each other and with everything that’s going on I just feel like the Jaguars did it the right way with the picks that they chose with me and C.J. (Henderson). And being on the opposite side of Josh Allen everything will go smoothly.”