In case you lost track over the weekend, and it was easy to do, NFL teams drafted three linebackers, three offensive linemen, two defensive backs, a defensive lineman, a quarterback, a wide receiver, a running back, a tight end and even a long snapper from LSU’s national championship team. Fourteen players.
That ties the record set by Ohio State in 2004.
At least six more Tigers signed free agent deals.
Can you say loaded? And what makes it even tougher for Mississippians to swallow is that two of the draftees were from right here in our state: offensive linemen Damien Lewis of Canton and Saahdiq Charles from MRA.
The Tigers’ will be stacked again whenever college football cranks up. They’ll win their share as always. But they’re also in for a dose of reality. They’ll find out just how much quarterback and top draft pick Joe Burrow meant to their magical season — not to mention defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and pass game coordinator Joe Brady who left to coach elsewhere.
If there is any doubt that the SEC is the most dominant league, look at the numbers: 63 SEC players were chosen. Next closest was the Big Ten with 48, followed by the Pac-12 (32), ACC (27) and the Big 12 (21).
The SEC has sent more players to the NFL in every draft since 2007.
Following LSU among SEC schools, Alabama had 9 players selected, Florida 7, Georgia 7, Auburn 6, Mississippi State 5, South Carolina 4, Arkansas 2, Kentucky 2, Missouri 2, Tennessee 2, Texas A&M 2, Vanderbilt 1, Ole Miss 0.
Overall, Ohio State and Michigan tied for second-most with 10 each.
MSU showed well. It was no shock that linebacker Willie Gay went to Kansas City in the second round or defensive back Cam Dantzler to Minnesota in the third. But few people saw offensive lineman Tyre Phillips going to Baltimore in the third, New Orleans trading up to take quarterback Tommy Stevens in the seventh; and defensive back Brian Cole tabbed by Minnesota in the seventh.
At least nine more Bulldogs signed as free agents: OL Darryl Williams, Chiefs; OL Chauncey Rivers, Ravens; WR Stephen Guidry, Cowboys; WR Isaiah Zuber, Patriots; LB Leo Lewis, Steelers; OL Tommy Champion, Seahawks; DL Lee Autry, Bears; DB Jaquarius Landrews, Giants; TE Farrod Green, Colts.
State fans can take this year’s draft two ways: They can be happy to hear their players’ names called five more times than their rival. Or they can look at this year’s draftees, combine them with last year’s five players selected — including dominant defensive stars Jeffery Simmons, Johnathan Abram and Montez Sweat — and realize what an opportunity they let slip away in 2018. That team had the talent to compete for the SEC championship. It finished 8-5 overall, 4-4 in the conference.
Here is the crazy part about Ole Miss having no players drafted: Four years ago under Hugh Freeze, the Rebels had the No. 5-ranked class in the country.
It included 15 5- and 4-star players: OL Greg Little, QB Shea Patterson, WR A.J. Brown, WR D.K. Metcalf, WR Tre Nixon, TE Octavious Cooley, DB Deontay Anderson, DL Benito Jones, DL Charles Wiley, RB D’Vaughn Pennamon, OL Bryce Mathews, RB Justin Connor, TE Jacob Mathis and TE Gabe Angel.
Little, Brown and Metcalf declared for the draft a year early and were drafted in the second round in 2019. Nixon, Mathis, Connor and Angel eventually transferred. Pennamon suffered a devastating knee injury. Cooley showed flashes of brilliance. Mathews didn’t live up to the ranking, nor did Anderson after announcing his commitment while parachuting out of an airplane.
Wiley has been become a player and has one year remaining.
I’m surprised Benito Jones wasn’t drafted. He was dominant at times at nose guard his senior season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the Dolphins, who signed him as a free agent Sunday.
Other Rebels signing free agent deals: DL Josiah Coatney, Steelers; DB Myles Hartfield, Panthers; DB Jalen Julius, Chiefs; RB Scottie Phillips, Texans.
It’s impossible not to discuss the fall of Shea Patterson, rated by many in 2016 the top prep quarterback in the nation.
He was OK at Ole Miss, pretty good after transferring to Michigan, but far from what he was rated out of high school. I wouldn’t call him a bust, but he was certainly a huge disappointment.
Patterson’s basic physical flaw?. “The arm talent didn’t seem up to snuff,” said Steve Wilfong, 247 Director of Recruiting. And as of Sunday night, Patterson had not signed a free agent deal.
I’m happy for Southern Miss wide receiver Quez Watkins, who was a two-star recruit out of high school in Athens, Ala. and only had two other offers — Central Arkansas and Georgia Southern. The Philadelphia Eagles traded up to take Watkins in the sixth round.
Steal of the draft might be LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips. He led the SEC in tackles in 2019 as a junior and finished second on his team in 2018. Cleveland was able to nab him in the third round. Can’t believe he was still on the board. As longtime coach Jim Carmody told me many times, “Don’t tell me how big or how fast a defensive guy is. Tell me how many tackles he makes.”
In the draft battle between former Georgia quarterbacks, Jacob Eason won by a round over Jake Fromm. Eason went to the Colts in the fourth, Fromm to the Bills in the fifth. When Fromm took over the starting job at Georgia in 2018 after Eason suffered a knee injury, Eason transferred to Washington the following season.
Funniest moment of the draft: When cameras switched to Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s vacation home on Nantucket, Mass. for his team’s first pick, the only breathing thing visible was the coach’s dog, Nike, seated in front of a computer.
Belichick even gave a scouting report on Nike, an Alaskan Klee Kai, to the Boston media: “He’s fast. Not as fast as the rabbits he’s chasing, but he’s close.”
Our staff at mississippiscoreboard.com sends its condolences to former MSU and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, whose 31-year-old brother, Jace, died April 23. Prescott also lost his mom in 2013. No reason for Jace Prescott’s death has been revealed. We also send condolences to the family and friends of Marino “The Godfather” Casem, the legendary Alcorn State football coach and athletic director who won four SWAC championships. He died last week at age 85.