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Why Declaring for the Draft was a Smart Decision for Kayshon Boutte

In a surprising turnaround, LSU’s wide receiver is now in the 2023 Draft
Dec 3, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (7) carries the ball for a receiving touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Just less than a month ago, in what was considered a surprising decision, LSU’s wide receiver Kayshon Boutte decided to come back to Baton Rouge for his senior year while forfeiting the opportunity to enter the Draft. Yesterday, some rumors were brought up after LSU head coach Brian Kelly said that Boutte wouldn’t have been available for the Citrus Bowl even without an injury designation. Later yesterday Boutte himself announced that he decided to change his decision and enter the Draft.

What is, at least to me, an underrated wide receiver class, especially at the top, can now count on another rock-solid prospect. As I also addressed the matter on my personal Twitter account, I think that the top of the 2023 wide receiver class is as good as the top of last year’s class and some of the previous ones too, with the only difference being that this class gets inexplicably criticized while some of the previous classes got overhyped.

Entering the draft I think it’s a smart decision for Kayshon Boutte: although the 2022 season hasn’t been his best one as he was recovering from a serious injury, Boutte has already reached his peak in College Football and has quite silenced the worries about his explosiveness being lost during what was his last game at LSU, the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. 

Coming back for his senior year would have been mainly a matter of draft stock, which is always reasonable on the player’s side, but from a development standpoint, taking the next step in the NFL is much more valuable than taking it in college and then having to transition to the league.

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Seeing him struggle with his explosiveness and consistency during the season, led him to drop on most draft boards from being a sure-fire top-10 selection to a fringe first-round talent, but overall, as I previously mentioned, seeing Boutte making that explosive signature play against Georgia, certainly helped to erase some doubts about his status after the injury. For what he displayed previously to the injury, Boutte would’ve probably been my top-ranked receiver in the upcoming draft class. 

The process he went through last summer though was particularly invasive and despite being on the field to start the season, Boutte was clearly limited by it: as the season went on, he looked more and more confident trying lightning-quick direction changes and also his long speed looked way improved and more similar to the one he displayed in 2021.

I still expect Boutte to not be among the first wide receivers selected as all Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba could end up being higher selections, leaving also Boutte as a potential value at the end of the first round where some high-caliber teams could invest on him. The Dallas Cowboys, who are in desperate need to add a playmaker on offense are a team that could very well be interested in him at the end of the first round.

Boutte has the makings of a primary receiver at the next level as he brings to the table reliability at all three levels of the field while adding to the mix the dynamic factor that allows him to put together big plays with ease. LSU’s passing game has been far from one of the best in the country in 2022 with Jayden Daniels under center and also Boutte’s production and efficiency have been hit by that. Boutte is an NFL-ready prospect in my opinion and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a rather quick impact at the next level.

While many could be worried about his medicals, it’s fair to think that his decision to declare could also have been backed up by NFL teams being confident in his status. An eventual slide on Draft Day could lead a team to snag what could be a big-time steal.