Since Dan Mullen made it to town in late 2008, expectations, results, and talent have all been increased in the football program that calls Starkville home. Recruiting has picked up, State has been to back-to-back-to-back bowl games for the first time in quite awhile, and we are also seeing those talented players moving on and playing on Sundays in the NFL. Since Mullen came to MSU, nine players that have played under him have gone on to be drafted in the NFL Draft, and we expect to see that number increase with the 2013 draft rolling around this weekend.
More impressively, State has had a former player drafted in the first round of the draft the past two consecutive seasons, with Derek Sherrod taken by the Packers at the tail end of the 2011 draft, and Fletcher Cox being selected by the Eagles just outside of the top ten last year. But the question on many State fan's minds as the first round comes up tonight is this: will we see that streak continue?
MSU players taken in the NFL Draft's 1st Round
|San Francisco 49ers
|Green Bay Packers
The most likely candidates to help keep that streak alive tonight are the two men who anchored MSU's defensive backfield last season -- CB Johnthan Banks and CB Darius Slay. Of the countless mock drafts that you will see floating around this time of year, most have the duo both being selected early tomorrow night in the second round of the draft. But, despite that being the consensus on these two, I don't think you can rule out at least one possibly being picked tonight. Banks -- the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner -- is clearly coveted by teams for his coverage ability. "Draft Experts" have knocked on him for his lack of speed, but the guy covered Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson like a wet blanket in last season's game, and Patterson has unbelievable speed. Even if Banks doesn't get drafted tonight and goes in tomorrow's rounds, someone is getting a steal with him.
Slay, on the other hand, is wanted by teams for his raw talent and speed -- speed that netted him the fastest 40 yard dash time for DBs at the NFL Combine with a 4.36. There was talk as recently as yesterday about a meniscus tear he suffered earlier this year, but draft experts don't seem to think that it will affect his stock any this weekend. Just after last season, Slay was probably a 4th round at best projection. Now there are talks of him definitely going in the 2nd round, if not tonight.
Whether the streak continues tonight or not, it's hard to argue that Mullen and the coaching staff aren't turning out another solid group of NFL prospects this year. Best of luck to Banks, Slay, Josh Boyd, Chad Bumphis, Cam Lawrence, and any other Bulldogs looking to make their childhood dreams come true this weekend.