Mississippi is a feeding ground for the NFL and this year is no different. With 17 players invited to the combine, who should you be looking for and what drills are most important?
Mississippi is a feeding ground for the NFL and this year is no different. With 17 players invited to the combine who should you be looking for and what drills are most important?
By – Insider Joe
Football fans know that after the Super Bowl there is this weird, slow monotonous month of February where not much happens. Some fans resort to watching the NBA but quickly remember that the ending has already been decided and Golden State is just waiting on their fourth ring in five years. Some fans have tuned in to the AAF which is better than no football but still, it’s no NFL. For most of us die-hard football fans, this is the time to scout the NFL draft prospects. Nothing clarifies where players will get drafted more than the NFL scouting combine.
The Combine is set to start on February 26th, and the list of official invites has been sent out. Mississippi is a state known for NFL level talent. This year 17 players from Mississippi universities received an invite to the 2019 Combine. Several have a real chance to become first or second round impact players in the NFL. Let’s take a look at who you should be paying attention to and what to watch for on February 26th.
Montez Sweat 6’6″, 240 lbs, Mississippi State
With Jeffery Simmons having questions about his past and his ACL tear, there is a high chance that Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat will be the first Mississippi product off the board come draft day. The key to watch for Sweat is his 3-cone time. Will he have the burst and directional athleticism to make an impact in the NFL? Most edge rushers fall in the 7.10-7.25 seconds range but some have graded well above that. If Sweat wants to be the first off the board he needs to run closer to 7.10 seconds or faster. To give you some perspective, Von Miller clocked 6.70 seconds in his combine.
D.K. Metcalf 6’4″, 225 lbs, Ole Miss
Three Ole Miss Receivers will be going to the draft this year. The one that literally stands above the rest is D.K. Metcalf. The 6’4”, 225 lbs prospect from Oxford, son of former NFL All-Pro Terrance Metcalf, is listed as the best wide receiver in most mock drafts despite missing most of the Rebels season due to a neck injury. For a larger receiver like Metcalf, I would pay attention to the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. Coaches will want to see his explosiveness and if he can get separation from speedy defensive backs in the NFL. For the 40 you would like to see Metcalf somewhere in the 4.45 – 4.55-second range.
Jonathan Abram 5’11”, 207 lbs, Mississippi State
It’s been said that no one has a motor like Abram: all gas no brakes for the Mississippi State safety. But how far will that take you on draft day? Abram had a breakout year racking up 99 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 TFL, and 2 INT this season. He could cement himself as the top safety in the 2019 draft class with a stellar combine performance. While the 40-yard dash and 3-cone drill are important, defensive backs will also run their own set of on field-specific drills. The speed turn drill is what you really want to watch for. Coaches and scouts will be looking to see timing, instincts, hip movement, and an ability to track, locate and catch a deep ball.
Greg Little 6’6″, 325 lbs, Ole Miss
It seems that the flashy picks always come from the skill positions or the defensive side of the ball. Offensive lineman, rarely get any media time. There is nothing flashy about a good tackle prospect. That does not mean you should be caught sleeping on Greg Little. The left tackle from Ole Miss could have his name called early in the first round if he performs well at this year’s combine. What to look for in the combine for offensive linemen might surprise you. The 40-yard dash, the 20-yard shuttle, and the broad jump are the money makers. It may sound silly to see how far a lineman can jump but coaches and scouts are paying attention to how explosive and strong their lower body is. For a tackle to be successful in the NFL he needs to be quick enough to keep up with these edge rushers but also strong enough to hold his ground. A past stand out performance for a tackle comes from Lane Johnson who put up 118 inches on the broad jump while weighing in at 303 pounds.
Now you know who and what to look for, so let’s give you the rest of the names on the long list of invites from Mississippi. Don’t forget to tune in to the Combine from February 26th to March 6th. The competition drills will be broadcast on the NFL Network March 1st through March 6th.
Ole Miss Invites
A.J. Brown, WR
Dawson Knox, TE
Greg Little, OL
DeMarkus Lodge, WR
D.K. Metcalf, WR
Javon Patterson, OL
Ken Webster, DB
Zedrick Woods, DB
Ta’amu Jordan, QB
Jonathan Abram, DB
Shaq Calhoun, OL
Nick Fitzgerald, QB
Gerri Green, DL
Elgton Jenkins, OL
Mark McLaurin, DB
Jamal Peters, DB
Montez Sweat, DL