The 2018 NFL Draft is set to take place from April 26-28, and the Rebels have a few key guys with the potential to make an impact at the professional level, according to NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Breeland Speaks, Marquis Haynes and Jordan Wilkins highlight Ole Miss’ draft prospects heading into the three-day event. All three players are projected to be mid-to-late round selections; however, despite their low draft grades, Kiper has high hopes for these players.
Speaks, well known among the Rebel faithful for his infamous waving gesture during the Egg Bowl, will likely be the first Ole Miss prospect off the board.
“I see Breeland Speaks as a 3-4 technique in the NFL because he is so quick and can move up and down the field so easily,” Kiper said. “I am most excited about Speaks out of all the Ole Miss prospects because of his improvement from year to year, going from one sack to seven sacks. I believe Speaks is one of the top underrated players in this draft.”
2017 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner Marquis Haynes leaves Ole Miss as its all-time career sack leader and is tied for most single-season sacks in school history. Although Kiper did not express the same enthusiasm for Haynes as he did for Speaks, he seems certain that Haynes will have an impact on whatever NFL roster he lands on.
“(Haynes) has proven what he can do on the field with his history on the field at Ole Miss,” Kiper said. “I see him as an early day-three guy, but there is no doubt that he can rush the passer.”
Jordan Wilkins missed the entire 2016 season because of academic ineligibility. However, he bounced back in a big way this past season and finished as Ole Miss’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Dexter McCluster in 2009. He finished sixth in the SEC for total rushing yards last year.
“Wilkins will be able to play at the next level, and I believe he will get a chance in the NFL,” Kiper said. “He will be looked at towards the last couple rounds of the draft.”
Kiper has served as an ESPN analyst since 1984 and his draft insight is well-respected in the football world. Rebel fans should be feeling rather optimistic about the encouraging things he had to say about this year’s Ole Miss draftees.