Daniels: A Look at the NFL Draft for Ole Miss Rebels

Laquon Treadwell is all smiles at the Sugar Bowl. Photo by John Bowen.
Laquon Treadwell is all smiles at the Sugar Bowl. Photo by John Bowen.

The NFL Draft is upon us. As Rebel fans, we are excitedly waiting to see where several of our players who given us some of the best moments in Ole Miss football will end up. Will we see them at our favorite team? Could Manning end up throwing to Treadwell? There are some exciting scenarios that could take place.

A couple weeks ago, scouts from all 32 NFL teams poured into the Manning Center to watch the Rebels pro day. The Rebel talent also brought in general managers from the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and the Tennessee Titans. Hugh Freeze called it a great day for the Ole Miss football program.

Laremy Tunsil was being looked at by most experts, the number one pick of the draft to the Tennessee Titans. Just recently the Titans traded that pick to the Los Angeles Rams, who are looking for a quarterback. Cleveland and San Diego at pick two and three are now looking like the more probable places for Tunsil to land. Tunsil has lived up to everything he was supposed to be as a Rebel. The biggest component of his game that is turning scouts’ heads is his elite quickness. Tunsil is a player that anyone of the 32 teams would be willing to take as it comes down to having sheer talent with this guy. Unfortunately for everyone picking behind San Diego, who has the 3rd pick of the draft, there is not a very realistic chance of corralling Tunsil. I think that Tunsil will end up in the hands of Cleveland or San Diego as the second or third pick of the draft.

Laquon Treadwell is a fan favorite of Rebel Nation and is also a fan favorite of wide receiver coaches around the NFL. Treadwell is being compared to NFL receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, because they both are defined by their talent, ball skills and consistent production. With his great height and length to go up for the ball, Treadwell is indeed looking like the best wide receiver in the 2016 Draft Class. He has the ability to go up and win catches over defenders which is vital in the league. He is great in the stat category RAC, run after catch, which means that he is difficult to bring down in space in one-on-one situations with defenders. Treadwell has shown no signs of that gruesome leg injury that he suffered in November of 2014 negatively impacting him. I do not believe that is something any team is worried about, with the way he performed last year. A lot of teams would be willing to go after a wide receiver like Treadwell. I think Los Angeles definitely wants him but may not get the chance with the 15th pick. New Orleans probably has Treadwell at the top of their list after letting one of their best receivers go.

Robert Nkemdiche is undoubtedly an athlete with top 10 talent but he has scared teams off with potential off the field issues. Nkemdiche was scouted by Ole Miss as a defensive end but the Rebel coaching staff believed that he would be productive as a defensive tackle. I believe that most NFL teams will continue to develop him at defensive tackle except in a 3-4 defense, he would be a defensive end but still in the two-gap. Nkemdiche does not have any bad weight and is exceptionally built. NFL teams would love someone like Nkemdiche who is already fit and has the body to be involved in the speed of the NFL. Some scouts have said that they are not blown away by Nkemdiche’s stats through his career at Ole Miss but they know that he remains a force to be reckoned with. He certainly will have the attention of any offensive line who prepares for him as he did throughout his years at Ole Miss where he was double teamed and sometimes even triple teamed. I would expect Nkemdiche to be taken late in the first round or early in the second round only because teams are worried about off the field issue that could come with the standout. Kansas City, who has the 28th pick, would be a great fit for Nkemdiche to play at the defensive end position. The Chiefs have a recent history of looking strongly at Ole Miss draftees drafting Dexter McCluster, Kendrick Lewis, Jerrell Powe and also signed Bo Wallace to their practice squad last year. The Arizona Cardinals would like a player like Robert Nkemdiche with their defensive line getting aged. Denver has come out and said that they were interested in drafting the defensive tackle if he were to be available at pick 31.

In recent years, the NFL draft has seen two players from the same school and same position go in the draft with both athletes standing out. Scouts have said Cody Core is the other half of that scenario with Laquon Treadwell in this year’s draft. Core had his best season with the Rebels this past year. He has great size at 6’3″ and is strong enough to get yards after the catch. Core was also good in special teams coverage which is something that scouts love about him. Not only is he a good deep ball receiver, but also he put together 18 tackles on special teams defense. I would watch for Core to be selected possibly in the third or fourth round by a team who is in need of receivers like Cincinnati, New Orleans, Houston, Minnesota, or the New York Jets.

The Rebels do have other names that we could potentially see go in the later rounds of the draft like C.J. Johnson, Mike Hilton, Trae Elston and Fahn Cooper. Former Rebel, Kendrick Lewis, was drafted by Kansas City in the fifth round of the 2010 draft and is now considered a talented safety in the NFL. I believe all of these players have room to grow if they were to get the chance in the NFL. C.J. Johnson was the leader of the Landshark Defense for a couple of years, and if scouts can look past his injuries, he could be taken in the draft. I believe that the team that scoops up Mike Hilton will end up with a heck of a cornerback. Hilton has an outstanding motor and is a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. He will not shy away from opportunities of getting better on the field. Trae Elston’s production in his time with Ole Miss will be strongly noticed by scouts, but experts are saying that the consistency of effort needs to be improved. Fahn Cooper was a tough competitor for the Rebels with good size and strength. Experts are looking at just one thing that might prevent him from being drafted and that is body control which goes along with run blocking.

The Rebels are looking at a great draft class with this being the year the most of Coach Freeze’s outstanding 2013 recruiting class is departing for the NFL. This will be a big moment to show nationally that Ole Miss football is flourishing under Hugh Freeze.


Grant Daniels

Grant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is a sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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