Feb 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive lineman Leonard Williams stretches as he talks to Mississippi State defensive lineman Preston Smith during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The 2015 NFL Draft starts on Thursday night in Chicago, and a handful of Mississippi State players are hoping they’ll be selected. After such a great 2014 season in the national spotlight, these former Bulldogs are looking forward to a potential NFL career. It all starts tonight, then Friday and Saturday as players will be taken off the board by 32 different franchises, then a flurry of free agent signings in the hours after the 7th round ends.
Here’s a look at the MSU players poised for a NFL career:
1. Benardrick McKinney is the Bulldogs’ top NFL prospect. At one time he was expected to be a 1st round draft pick, but he may not make it quite that high. Most likely he’ll have to wait until Friday to hear his named called in the 2nd round, but all it takes is one team to believe in you to get picked in the 1st round. McKinney will be in Chicago for the draft.
2. Preston Smith has vaulted his stock ever since the 2014 season began (really his big time play started in the 2013 Liberty Bowl). After a great senior season he impressed scouts at the NFL combine. He could reach as high as the 2nd round, but should not fall past the 3rd round. So expect his name to be called on Friday night.
3. Justin Cox – Unfortunately Justin’s time with MSU ended on a sour note as he was suspended for the final three games…where he certainly could have been used. But the charges against him were dropped and he hopes to move on from that incident and into the NFL where he was very impressive at the NFL combine with his size and speed. Most likely he will get drafted on Saturday in the 4th-7th rounds.
4. Josh Robinson – It’s hard to get a gauge on where JRob will land. He left school early much to everyone’s surprise, and most thought he probably would not be drafted. Then he had a poor showing at the NFL combine, but still there are scouts who say he could be as high as a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. Or he could go undrafted. It’s really hard to tell here.
5. Kaleb Eulls – I think Kaleb will get drafted by someone. Great young man who started four years in the SEC. He played hard, he’s smart and capable of making it at the next level. Most likely he’s probably a 6th or 7th round pick.
6. Matt Wells – The “Cheetah” was one of my favorite players during his career in Starkville. I just love his game. I don’t know how he’s not projected in the first 4-5 rounds of the draft, but somehow he isn’t. If he’s not drafted, however, I fully expect him to latch on somewhere as a free agent and make the team.
7. Jameon Lewis – Just due to Tubby’s size I don’t see him getting drafted. The NFL will be a tough one to crack for him despite his athletic ability. He can do it, but the deck will be stacked against him.
Ben Beckwith, Dillon Day, Blaine Clausell – All of these former offensive lineman for MSU had solid careers in maroon and white, but may not hear their name called. But they should all get a chance to sign a contract, and I believe they will. Beckwith might have the best chance of getting drafted, then Clausell. Dillon’s size limits the chance a pro team will take a chance to draft him. But look out as they’ll all have a shot at the next level.