The Ole Miss Rebels experienced a veritable drought in the NFL draft that has been broken in the last three years. It’s not that players weren’t chosen at all - 2008 and 2013 were the only years since 2000 that has happened. But from 2011-2015, only four players were selected for a chance to play in the NFL.
That streak has since been obliterated with one of the more prolific periods in the common draft era. The Rebels had four players selected in the 2018 draft and another nine in the two previous years. For perspective, the back to back Houston Got-Dang Dale Nutt Cotton Bowl teams had eight players drafted in two years. It’s a clear mark of success and talent, but also that the Rebels were competitive in the SEC.
The conference posted 53 selections out of the 257 picks in the 2018 draft, of course led by Alabama with a dozen or so. So, for the Rebels to have four selections it gives head coach Matt Luke and his assistants some ammo on the recruiting trail. But as we saw names selected off the draft board, the boys at RCR wanted to take a look back at the past three years to see who was picked and where they are now.
2016 - Five Selections
Laremy Tunsil - 1st round, 13th overall
Oh my, what a draft night this was. It still seems surreal and dream-state that Tunsil had texts leaked, a video of bong rips leak and then maybe admit to NCAA violations all in the same 3 to 4 hour period. Tunsil was supposed to be a can’t-miss top 5 pick and instead fell to No. 13 overall to the Miami Dolphins costing him millions. He’s played in 30 games for the ‘Phins and was made a main cog at tackle last season. So... he’s got that going for him.
Laquon Treadwell - 1st round, 23rd overall
Quon is another first rounder that is personally one of my favorite Rebels ever. He was physical, tough and loaded with talent. Treadwell went in the first round, 23rd overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings. He’s still with the Vikings and has started to come into his own a little bit. He had 20 catches for 200 yards in 2017, but it was way up from a disappointing rookie year where he only logged one catch.
Robert Nkemdiche - 1st round, 29th overall
Big Rob was the third Rebel taken in the first round in 2016, which is a record that will most likely stand until maybe forever or 2019 depending on your outlook on life. Nkemdiche was selected No. 29 overall and his obvious off the field incidents were overshadowed by his ridiculous talent on the field. While his stats have not jumped off the page for two seasons, you can see the push he consistently gets on the d-line for the Arizona Cardinals causing disruption on the reg.
Fahn Cooper - 5thround, 174 overall
Coop-a-loop was drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers in what turned out to be a terrible draft for Chip Kelly. Fahn was later waived by the 49ers and picked up by the Colts for 2017, and so far, he’s waiting to hear on a destination for 2018.
Cody Core - 6th round, 199 overall
Rebel fans will remember Cody Core as a nice complement to Laquon Treadwell in its aerial attack. Core was a little bit of a project taking all four years to fully come into a reliable starter. He was always touted as very talented though, and his first season with the Cincinnati Bengals looked to have Core as a steal in the sixth round when he grabbed 17 catches for 200 yards. Core had a dismal 2017, however, playing in 13 games with no catches.
2017 Draft - Four selections
Evan Engram - 1st round, 23 overall
If the eyes behind your red and blue glasses didn’t well with tears at this pick, you need to check your pulse. Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants selecting the most electric tight end in Ole Miss history was a match made in heaven. The fourth first round pick for the 2016 Sugar Bowl champs, Engram caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. Obviously, he has had more early success than anyone in recent memory from Ole Miss.
D.J. Jones - 6th round, 198 overall
The San Francisco 49ers found some value in Jones in the sixth round last year. Jones was an East Mississippi Community College transfer to the Rebels and made an immediate impact in his first season. He was part of a defensive line platoon for the 49ers last season playing in nine games and logging eight tackles.
Derrick Jones - 6th round, 204 overall
I nearly lost my voice as Derrick Jones picked off a Georgia pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown in 2016. It was a long time coming for Jones who bounced back and forth from WR to CB in his time at Ole Miss. The New York Jets have used him in three games since picking him up late in the 2017 draft. He has the speed to play at any level and has remained in the mix in the Jets defensive backfield.
Chad Kelly - 7th round, 253 overall a.k.a MR. IRRELEVANT GANG GANG
What I would’ve given for Chad to have one more year at Ole Miss or even finish out his last season. Kelly was a prolific firebrand of a QB and led the Rebels to an upset win in Tuscaloosa for the first ever back-to-back wins against Alabama in Ole Miss history. The Denver Broncos have been looking for a heir apparent QB since Peyton Manning, and Kelly is currently in a battle for the back-up position against former Memphis Tiger Paxton Lynch. If Kelly is healthy, I can’t imagine he doesn’t have what it takes to progress into an NFL QB in a couple years.
2018 Draft - Four selections
Breeland Speaks - 2nd round, 46 overall
Speaks showed flashes of ability from the moment he walked onto the Ole Miss campus. His late junior season play cemented him in the minds and hearts of Rebels for all time. The Kansas City Chiefs have a big bodied, very athletic player here. His 282 lbs. body clocked in at 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and rumor is that they are considering him as an outside linebacker at the next level.
Marquis Haynes - 4th round, 136 overall
The Carolina Panthers decided to take a little risk with Haynes who has had some injuries in college and honestly at times disappeared in games. He’s a clear tweener and even small for NFL standards, but he’s got solid speed at 4.67 40-yard dash. Haynes will put in the work to challenge for playing time right away.
Jordan Wilkins - 5th round, 169 overall
Wilkins’ bruising running style caught the eye of the Indianapolis Colts whose GM compared him to Matt Forte. If Wilkins can have half of the career Forte did, this is a big value pick for the Colts. Indy needs RB depth in a bad way in my opinion, and Wilkins ought to get a hard look going into 2018.
Rod Taylor - 7th round, 252 overall
Hot Rod is a big guy. He’s not the greatest offensive lineman to ever play in Oxford, but he has clearly matured in the last season or so. Taylor is clearly going to have to prove himself quickly to get on the 54 man roster, but I would see value in him as a practice squad player with his size and experience if I was a GM.
What Rebels do you remember from drafts in the past? In 2019, where would you like to see one of our Rebels land?
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