Hot Takes from the NFL Draft

Article by Josh Pitts – 5/1/2019

The dreams and desires of becoming an professional football player in the National Football League became a reality for many players of this past weekend. Let’s take a look at some hot takes involving our players right here in Mississippi.

  • Undrafted Free Agents

Just because your name isn’t called during the 7 rounds of the NFL Draft doesn’t mean it’s all over for you as a professional football player. There is other avenues to which you can garner a paycheck and play football. For some there alternative leagues such as Arena or Canadian (or next years revamped XFL). The vast majority of young men will experiment with the route of Undrafted Free Agents (UDFA). Players who are not drafted in a league’s annual draft of amateur players are considered to be unrestricted free agents and are free to sign contracts with any team. Some familiar names have found success this way such as: Mike Hilton (Ole Miss), Wes Welker, Kurt Warner, Priest Holmes, and Tony Romo.

As for this year’s class here is where Ole Miss and Mississippi State UDFAs ended up:

Ole Miss

DaMarkus Lodge – WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Zedrick Woods – S – Jacksonville Jaguars

Javien Hamilton – DB – Green Bay Packers

Jordan Ta’amu – QB – Oakland Raiders/Houston Texans (Mini Camp Invite)

Mississippi State

Nick Fitzgerald – QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aeris Williams – RB – Indianapolis Colts

Jamal Peters- DB – Indianapolis Colts

Deion Calhoun – OL – Miami Dolphins

Mark Mclaurin – S – New York Giants

Justin Johnson – TE – Seattle Seahawks

Cory Thomas – DT – Miami Dolphins

Chris Rayford – DB – Indianapolis Colts

Braxton Hoyett – DT – Tennessee Titans

  • The Bulldog 1st Round Hat Trick

On Thursday, Mississippi State was in good company as 1 of 3 teams to put three players into the NFL via the 1st round. The other two? Oh yeah Alabama and Clemson. Internally, that set the school record for most 1st round draft picks in the same year. All three players were from the top ranked defense. Jeffrey Simmons was the first player off the board to the Tennessee Titans. This came a little bit surprising considering his recent injury and all the humbug regarding a previous altercation before he came to Starkville. Regardless, the Titans picked up a defensive tackle that is a force to be reckoned with. Barring the injury/incident [Simmons] would have easily been a top 5 pick. The next man up was Montez Sweat. After a extremely impressive NFL Combine, Sweat was in the conversation to be a top 10 – top 15 player. Unfortunately a misdiagnosis of a heart condition prior to the draft cause Sweat to go down on draft boards. The Washington Redskins swooped in with the 26th pick and got an edge defender that will be a blessing to a team that needs nothing but good things going forward. Lastly, Coach John Gruden and GM Mike Mayock used their third 1st round pick to select defensive back Jonathan Abram. The Raiders, like the Redskins, need all the help they can get. Surprisingly, considered being an offensive demigod, Gruden and the gang took a good bit of defense in this draft. Abram will look to be a day one starter with the lack of talent in the Oakland secondary.

History made for Mississippi State

  • The Decline of DK

After a phenomenal NFL Combine and Social Media post of a Herculean-esque wide receiver from Oxford, DK Metcalf was all but guaranteed to be a 1st round draft pick and the 1st WR off the board. Wrong and wrong. Not only was Metcalf not a 1st round selection but there were eight other pass catchers taken in front of him (including team mate AJ Brown). With the 64th overall selection the Seattle Seahawks drafted Metcalf. With all that being said it’s a bit of a bummer for the big man. Right? Yes and no. Yes his fallout in the draft cost him a great deal of money and may have hurt the young man’s pride. But (here’s the no), with DK going to Seattle he finds himself in a very promising situation. Last year the Seahawks was ranked 27th in the NFL in passing offense. That’s not because of lack of a talented quarterback, it’s due to the lack of what surrounds Russell Wilson. Current top receiver, Doug Baldwyn, is contemplating retirement due to injuries. Tyler Lockett is the next top guy, but Lockett lacks dominating size and is more of a speed/burner type. In comes Metcalf, a physical big man to seize an opportunity. We’ll see what is to come with DK beginning with Rookie Mini Camps, practice, and preseason but the ingredients are in for Metcalf to make a splash quick, fast, and in a hurry.

  • Mucho Mississippi

Draft picks by state will seemingly be forever dominated by the big three: Florida, Texas, and California. Why? Population. Easy right? Yep. Okay let’s move along.

The Magnolia State came in tied for 6th place for draft picks per state (alongside Virginia and Louisiana) with ten. With Mississippi’s population roughly being 2.987 million, that means for every 300,000ish people there’s a young man going to the NFL. Now let’s take a look at top ranked Florida, who sent 33 players to the NFL. Florida’s population is around 21.3 million people, that means 1 in every 645,000ish will go to the NFL.

The heart of the matter is that amongst all states per million Mississippi ranked number 1. Yes you read that right, NUMBER ONE. And well, honestly, it’s good to not be at the bottom of a stats list for once.