Big Cat Country’s post-draft Q&A series marches on with perhaps the most versatile and intriguing rookie entering the fold for the Jacksonville Jaguars, in outside linebacker/edge rusher/do-it-all defender, K’Lavon Chaisson.
Chaisson is expected to wear many hats for Jacksonville’s defense, especially if the Jaguars move to a more multiple scheme, which may include a 3-4 look. But how would he be best utilized, and what are his strengths?
We asked Zachary Junda, the managing editor at SB Nation’s And The Valley Shook — your one-stop website for everything LSU Tigers-related — these questions and more.
Here is what he had to say.
1. Of course, Chaisson is a versatile player and athletic freak. Would you say he is best used as a strong-side linebacker, pass-rushing 3-4 standup linebacker (if the Jaguars do move to that look in base downs) or as a hand-in-the-dirt true defensive end? Why?
Zachary: I can’t see him as a defensive end. The Jaguars definitely have better football minds than me, but I can’t see him as a true defensive end. I’m sure there’s a creative way to scheme him as an end, but I would say that’s a misuse of his ability. I love Chaisson as a stand up linebacker. He can set the edge and with blossoming pass rushing ability he could complement Josh Allen nicely on the opposite side of the defense.
2. How well-versed is Chaisson in pass coverage? If the Jaguars plan to utilize him as linebacker, he may need to be savvy in this area in certain situations, does he fit the bill?
Zachary: He’s better in pass coverage than people give him credit for. Against Alabama he logged more snaps in coverage, 21, than pass rushes, 18. He snuffed out a third down screen to Bama running back Najee Harris and he chased down Las Vegas Raiders’ first-round-pick Henry Ruggs from behind on another play. If he can catch Ruggs and his 4.2 (40-yard dash) speed, he can keep pace with any tight end in the NFL.
3. While we just mentioned pass coverage and pass-rushing, the Jaguars are putting a big emphasis on stopping the run this year, after an abysmal performance in that regard last season. What does Chaisson bring as a run-stuffer?
Zachary: I don’t think of Chaisson as a run stuffer per se, but I do think he’s so good setting the edge that he’ll allow teammates to make stops. He’s great moving laterally and I see him as the type of linebacker that can force runs back inside. He’ll need to fine tune how to use his hands, but once he refines that, expect to see plenty of tackles for loss.
4. Chaisson wore the highly-esteemed No. 18 for LSU, given to only high-character leaders. The Jaguars are looking to put a big emphasis on high-character guys after a locker room that’s had its fair share of tumultuous situations over the past couple of seasons. Despite only being 20 years old what kind of maturity, leadership and locker room presence does Chaisson bring to the table?
Zach: Yeah, for those who don’t know, wearing No. 18 for LSU is the single highest honor a player can get. It goes to the player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Tiger both on and off the field. It’s voted on by coaches and the former players that wore 18 back when the tradition started in 2003. Chaisson was on the SEC Academic Honor Roll all three years he was part of the program and was named a permanent team captain for the 2019 team. But the best part about Chaisson is while he was rehabbing from his torn ACL, he didn’t miss a single meeting. Sometimes you just need to have a good guy on the team, and Chaisson is one of the best humans out there.
5. Chaisson has had some durability issues, missing all of 2018 with an ACL tear and two games in 2019 with an ankle injury. Is there any reason for Jags fans to be concerned here?
Zach: I’ll admit that, in a weird way, the ankle injury scared some people more than the ACL tear. After spending so much time coming back from a serious injury like the ACL and then missing a pair of games due to a minor injury that made people think “ah man is his body breaking down already?” But he attacked both injuries and came back and looked every bit the five-star prospect post-injuries. I’m not worried about Chaisson’s body, and I don’t want Jaguars fans to worry either.
6. Anything else Jags fan should know about Chaisson?
Zach: Maybe I’m alone in this comparison, but when I think of K’Lavon Chaisson in the NFL, I see a stand up linebacker version of another former LSU player, Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter. My reasoning in this: Hunter and Chaisson both have mutant builds. Like built in a way where when you see them you think “OK, there’s definitely alien life out there, I’m looking at two right now.” One of the knocks on Hunter coming out of LSU was well he sets the edge well, but where’s the flashy pass rushing stats? Minnesota took Hunter and in five years he’s picked up 54.5 sacks. There was a beast inside Hunter and the Vikings tapped into that potential; I think Chaisson could be something similar for the Jaguars.
Much appreciation to Zach for taking the time (he is a busy man right about now, given how many LSU players were just drafted) to provide thoughtful analysis and insights into Jacksonville’s versatile rookie edge rusher. You can follow Zach on Twitter, and for all of the next LSU prospects to keep an eye on, make sure to hit the follow button on And The Valley Shook’s new Twitter feed.