Summary: LSU has been a factory of NFL defensive backs. The Tigers have featured a fast and physical defense for years, and last autumn, Craig Loston was perhaps the team's most consistent player.
Loston replaced Brandon Taylor in the starting lineup in 2012 and had an impressive debut. Loston was named a Second-Team All-SEC selection after making 55 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and three interceptions. He formed a nice safety tandem with Eric Reid.
Loston had a rough game against Georgia early in the 2013 season, but he played well for the remainder of his senior year. He had strong games against Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M (7 tackles, 1 interception) and Iowa (6 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 interception). As a senior, Loston had 57 tackles, three passes broken up, three interceptions and four tackles for a loss.
Loston also played well at the Senior Bowl. He showed good quickness with the ability to help out in pass coverage while being a tough run defender.
Loston is athletic enough to play some free safety in the NFL while also being a good fit as a strong safety. Loston is a good tackler who operates well in the tackle box. He is physical and can punish receivers when given the opportunity. He could have some coverage potential against NFL tight ends while also being able to help in coverage in the deep part of the field.
Loston isn't a rangy athlete who will cover a ton of ground as a free safety. It probably isn't a good idea to leave him in man coverage on a speed receiver running deep down the field. Loston would be better off only having to cover half the field with cornerback help.
It may take some developmental time, but Loston has the ability to develop into a quality starter in the NFL.
Player Comparison: LaRon Landry. Loston's game resembles Landry more than anybody else, but Landry is bigger and better in pass coverage. Like Landry, Loston is a hard hitter who is a good run defender. Both players are physical and never shy away from contact. Landry was a high first-rounder while Loston looks to be a second-day pick.
NFL Matches: St. Louis, Baltimore, Minnesota, Chicago, Green Bay, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Arizona, New York Jets
There are a lot of teams that could consider drafting Loston on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Eagles have a huge hole at safety and drafted Loston's former teammate Bennie Logan in the third round last year.
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said that improving the safety position would be a goal of the offseason. Loston and Matt Elam could form one of the more physical tandems in the NFL.
The Jets need to improve their safeties, and Loston would be a good fit for Rex Ryan.
In the NFC North, the Vikings could use a safety to pair with Harrison Smith and have an extra third-round pick from the Percy Harvin trade. The Bears could look for an upgrade over Chris Conte and Major Wright. Loston would fit Mel Tucker's defense well. The safety position was a weakness for the Packers last year. They need to find a partner to go with Morgan Burnett. Loston isn't really their type of defensive back, as they prefer longer and rangy athletes for defensive backs.
In the NFC West, the 49ers could use an understudy to Donte Whitner, and Loston would be a natural for that role. He would be reunited with Reid in San Francisco. Arizona got a good season out of Yeremiah Bell last year, but it will need to get a long-term starter.
Rasul Douglas is an interesting pick for the Eagles. He was a ballhawk last year with eight interceptions, to tie for the lead in the nation. He is a big press man corner. He has issues in zone and off man, but Douglas could develop into a starter.
Chad Williams is a speed threat receiver for Arizona. It is a nice fit in the Cardinals with Larry Fitzgerald aging, Michael Floyd released, and John Brown in the last year of his contract. Williams was impressive at the Senior Bowl with speed to challenge cornerbacks.