The 2021 NFL Draft starts tonight at 7:00 PM CST on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. The start of the NFL draft is a culmination of hard work, solid play on the football field, and of course, childhood dreams. This year’s draft will be held in Cleveland. The Commissioner will be ready to give his customary hug to the league’s newest draftees this year after the 2020 NFL Draft was held virtually.
Bulldogs who could hear their name called in the 2021 NFL Draft
Mississippi State has a 10-year draft streak going. The last time a Bulldog went undrafted was in the 2008 and 2009 NFL Drafts. Several Bulldogs should hear their name called. While this year’s draft does not have the star power of the 2019 draft, where there were 3 Bulldogs selected in the 1st round, there are draftable players with potential
This draft class played for three head coaches in Dan Mullen, Joe Moorhead, and Mike Leach. Some might wonder if changes in head coaches impacted the player’s draft prospectus because of the change in philosophy. All of that does not matter now, as the NFL Draft is here.
Kylin Hill should be the first Bulldog to hear his name called in the 2021 Draft. If Hill had stayed in the 2020 draft, I feel he would have contributed to an NFL team. There is no need to rehash the events of Hill’s senior year, and he returned to campus for his Pro Day and the Maroon and White Spring Football game.
Hill participated in the Senior Bowl, earning the Top RB award for the American team and a cowbell from the Mississippi State Alumni Chapter. Hill performed well at Mississippi State’s Pro-Day. The NFL Draft prospects site has Hill rated as the 15th running back slated as a 6th/7th round pick.
Hill has early-round talent and ability. If he slides past the 4th round, I would be surprised. Several mock drafts have Hill being drafted in the 4th round. After looking at NFL depth charts, teams with a potential need for a running back are the: Green Bay Packers, Washington Football Team, Arizona Cardinals, and the Houston Texans.
Hill has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and I think playing with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers would be great for Hill. I don’t know how Hill will adjust to the cold, but the Packers could select Hill with the 142nd overall pick in the 4th round.
Erroll Thompson was the unquestioned leader of the Mississippi State defense. Thompson joined the 300 tackles club this season and finished with 313 for his career. Thompson is known for his ability to stop the run.
Thompson worked on his coverage ability, and a touchdown-saving interception evidenced that against Vanderbilt. Thompson also slimmed up during the offseason to turn himself into an every-down linebacker in the NFL.
I think Thompson helped himself by rebuilding his body. NFL personnel can see the work he put in to make himself a more draftable player. I feel like Thompson has the ability to play MLB in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme in the NFL.
Thompson could fill a need for the Dallas Cowboys with the 227th overall pick in the 6th round with Sean Lee retiring. Thompson can learn the system and contribute as a rookie on special teams and rotate at the MLB spot.
Marquis Spencer has been a swiss army knife over his Mississippi State career. Spencer has played defensive end and linebacker in his career. He has the size to play DT in a 4-3 system, DE in a 3-4, or if he was to lose some weight, he still has the athleticism to play OLB in the 3-4 as well.
Adding Spencer to the roster would be like Christmas in April for Bill Belichick with the 242nd overall pick in the 7th round. Belichick loves players with versatility, and that happens to be Spencer’s forte.
Osirus Mitchell has been a steady player his entire Mississippi State career. Mitchell came to Mississippi State as an unheralded WR prospect and leaves as a potential NFL draft pick.
Mississippi State has not had a WR since 1996, and that was Eric Moulds. Mitchell is a long receiver with decent speed and great jumping ability.
Mitchell could be an intriguing pick for the New Orleans Saints with the 255th overall pick in the 7th round who desperately need receiver production opposite Michael Thomas. Sean Payton definitely knows how to use someone with Mitchell’s ability.
Undrafted Free Agents
While being drafted is the ideal way to accomplish the NFL dream, there are plenty of Bulldogs who bullied their way into the NFL as undrafted free agents. A few Bulldogs who have accomplished this feat are JT Gray, Denico Autry, Kent Hull, Justin Jenkins, Kevin Dockery, Kyle Love, and Tommy Kelly.
While they may not be drafted, a handful of Bulldog players will be signed as undrafted free agents. Kobe Jones is one of those players. Jones is a player that has a high motor, and his position may change depending on what team he goes to. Jones could flourish as a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 defense.
KJ Costello was once hailed as a potential 1st round pick, but after the LSU game, his stock fell faster than anchor being dropped from a pirate ship. Costello could benefit from an NFL team giving him a chance to make a roster as the third QB to improve his decision-making.
The one player I hope gets a chance is former safety, Marcus Murphy. Murphy opted out of his junior season. Murphy has a family and a young son to provide for. Murphy has overcome so much in his life, and earning an NFL roster spot will be the next challenge.
I would love to see Murphy end up with my favorite NFL team, the Kansas City Chiefs. He would feel welcome there as there are plenty of Bulldogs on the Chiefs roster.