The 2017 NFL Draft is barely over so that means it's time to starting looking at next year's draft. Who on Mizzou will be the next to join Kony Ealy, Justin Britt and Shane Ray Markus Golden, Mitch Morse, and the hyper-productive Charles Harris and others in the pros?
At the beginning of May, Rock M Nation’s David Morrison wrote “Missouri is about as good as it gets in the SEC when it comes to getting its 2-star and below guys drafted.”
The Tigers signed 72 of that type over the study period and sent seven to the draft, or 9.87 percent. That’s much better than the SEC average for that time (5.37) and third to only Florida (11.8) and Arkansas (11.3) in the SEC. And Florida’s stat is a little misleading, signed only 17 and sent two to the draft.
Last week, Nick Kelly wrote for the Maneater, “Missouri is SEC East's best at turning low-star recruits into high draft picks”
Based on an average of star ratings assigned by Rivals and 247Sports, Missouri has turned the most three- and 3.5-star prospects into first- and second-round NFL draft picks of any SEC East school. Alabama, an SEC West school that won four of the past eight national championships, has produced the same amount of three- and 3.5-star prospects who have became first- and second-round picks as the Tigers. Georgia, one of the SEC’s other premier programs, has not produced any.
No recruit better embodies the “zero-star recruit to NFL draftee” story than newly minted Miami Dolphin, Charles Harris.
Charles Harris is the 6th Missouri DL/LB taken in the 1st rd since 2009. That's more than anyone else in span. Alabama 2nd with 5.— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) April 28, 2017
Then on Monday, Blake Toppmeyer mused, “In reality, though, Missouri has had good seasons in the past and then quiet drafts the following spring.”
Fans may hope this year’s team follows the mold of loud winters and quiet springs. Let’s take a look at who’s eligible on Missouri’s 2017 roster and which players are early favorites to be drafted next year.
First off, who on Mizzou's 2017 roster is eligible for the 2018 Draft:
"Players who have been out of high school for at least three years are eligible for the NFL draft. The rules do not state that a player must attend college, but virtually all of the players selected in the NFL draft have played college football. A year as a redshirt player in college counts toward eligibility even though the player was not allowed to participate in games during that year, therefore players who have completed their redshirt sophomore year can enter the NFL draft."
The keyword here is red-shirt sophomores or athletes who are three (3) years removed from high school.
Per MUTigers.com 60 players are red-shirt sophomores or older and 20 who are Seniors or RS Seniors meaning it's the NFL draft or graduation after this year.
|6||J'Mon Moore||Wide Receiver||6-3||205||R-Sr.||Missouri City, Texas||Elkins|
|10||Jason Reese||Tight End||6-5||255||R-Sr.||Euless, Texas||Trinity|
|12||Dominic Nelson||Safety||6-0||205||R-Sr.||Florissant, Mo.||Florissant|
|16||Marcell Frazier||Defensive Lineman||6-5||265||R-Sr.||Portland, Ore.||Douglas|
|22||Anthony Sherrils||Defensive Back||6-0||205||R-Sr.||Kansas City, Mo.||Hogan Prep|
|24||Cameren Rivers||Wide Receiver||6-4||195||R-Sr.||St. Louis, Mo.||McCluer North|
|34||Joey Burkett||Linebacker||6-2||225||R-Sr.||Jefferson City, Mo.||Jefferson City|
|38||Eric Beisel||Linebacker||6-3||240||R-Sr.||Fenton, Mo.||Rockwood Summit|
|57||Alec Abeln||Offensive Lineman||6-3||305||R-Sr.||St. Louis, Mo.||University|
|66||Adam Ploudre||Offensive Lineman||6-4||320||R-Sr.||Ballwin, Mo.||Marquette|
|92||Nick Bartolotta||Kicker||5-6||185||R-Sr.||St. Louis, Mo.||Fox|
|96||A.J. Logan||Defensive Lineman||6-2||325||R-Sr.||Columbia, Mo.||Rock Bridge|
|1||Anthony Hines||Safety||6-1||195||Sr.||South San Francisco, Calif.||El Camino|
|8||Thomas Wilson||Safety||5-10||200||Sr.||Suwanee, Ga.||Buford|
|18||Dominic Collins||Wide Receiver||6-2||180||Sr.||Lake Forest, Calif.||El Toro|
|21||Ish Witter||Running Back||5-10||195||Sr.||Tampa, Fla.||Alonso|
|28||Logan Cheadle||Defensive Back||5-10||180||Sr.||Lee's Summit, Mo.||Lee's Summit West|
|51||Ed Cruz||Defensive Lineman||6-2||240||Sr.||Park Hills, Mo.||Central|
|55||Jordan Harold||Defensive Lineman||6-2||265||Sr.||St. Louis, Mo.||McCluer North|
|76||Tyler Howell||Offensive Lineman||6-8||330||Sr.||Bonner Springs, Kan.||Bonner Springs|
|4||Brandon Lee||Linebacker||6-2||230||R-Jr.||Indianapolis, Ind.||Lawrence Central|
|6||Tavon Ross||Linebacker||6-0||210||R-Jr.||Cochran, Ga.||Bleckley County|
|7||Nate Brown||Wide Receiver||6-3||210||R-Jr.||Suwanee, Ga.||North Gwinnett|
|11||Kendall Blanton||Tight End||6-6||265||R-Jr.||Blue Springs, Mo.||Blue Springs South|
|14||Ray Wingo||Wide Receiver||5-11||175||R-Jr.||St. Louis, Mo.||St. Louis University High|
|15||Grant Jones||Linebacker||6-3||225||R-Jr.||Columbia, Mo.||Hickman|
|20||Kaleb Prewett||Safety||6-1||210||R-Jr.||Blue Springs, Mo.||Blue Springs|
|31||Finis Stribling IV||Defensive Back||5-11||190||R-Jr.||Thompson's Station, Tenn.||Independence|
|48||Roderick Winters||Linebacker||5-11||240||R-Jr.||Arlington, Texas||Bowie|
|56||Samson Bailey||Offensive Lineman||6-4||295||R-Jr.||Lamar, Mo.||Lamar|
|61||Adam Roland||Defensive Lineman||6-3||320||R-Jr.||St. Louis, Mo.||Oakville|
|71||Kevin Pendleton||Offensive Lineman||6-4||335||R-Jr.||Lee's Summit, Mo.||Lee's Summit West|
|77||Paul Adams||Offensive Lineman||6-6||315||R-Jr.||Nashville, Tenn.||Christ Presbyterian|
|95||Rashad Brandon||Defensive Line||6-3||305||R-Jr.||Jersey City, N.J.||St. Anthony's|
|3||Drew Lock||Quarterback||6-4||225||Jr.||Lee's Summit, Mo.||Lee's Summit|
|5||Terry Beckner, Jr.||Defensive Lineman||6-4||290||Jr.||East St. Louis, Ill.||East St. Louis|
|7||Cam Hilton||Safety||6-0||190||Jr.||St. Louis, Mo.||Webster Groves|
|24||Terez Hall||Linebacker||6-2||230||Jr.||Lithonia, Ga.||King|
|26||Corey Fatony||Punter||5-11||205||Jr.||Franklin, Tenn.||Franklin|
|28||Steven Spadarotto||Wide Receiver||6-2||185||Jr.||Santa Maria, Calif.||Righetti|
|29||Nate Strong||Running Back||6-0||210||Jr.||East St. Louis, Ill.||East St. Louis|
|46||Jacob Trump||Linebacker||6-3||225||Jr.||Kahoka, Mo.||Clark County|
|62||Thomas Grossman||Offensive Lineman||6-3||275||Jr.||St. Louis, Mo.||Chaminade|
|72||Kyle Mitchell||Offensive Lineman||6-5||325||Jr.||Fair Oaks, Calif.||Del Campo|
|84||Emanuel Hall||Wide Receiver||6-3||200||Jr.||Franklin, Tenn.||Centennial|
|88||Nate Howard||Defensive Lineman||6-4||250||Jr.||St. Louis, Mo.||Ladue Horton Watkins|
|93||Andrew Carr||Kicker||6-1||185||Jr.||Cameron, Mo.||Cameron|
|2||TJ Warren||Linebacker||5-11||210||R-So.||Conyers, Ga.||Rockdale County|
|3||Ronnell Perkins||Safety||6-0||205||R-So.||St. Louis, Mo.||University City|
|8||Justin Smith||Wide Receiver||6-7||210||R-So.||Dublin, Ga.||West Laurens|
|12||Johnathon Johnson||Wide Receiver||5-10||185||R-So.||Memphis, Tenn.||Melrose|
|17||Richaud Floyd||Wide Receiver||5-11||185||R-So.||Gulfport, Miss.||Gulfport|
|19||Jack Lowary||Quarterback||6-4||215||R-So.||Huntington Beach, Calif.||Mater Dei|
|30||Ryan Dalley||Safety||6-1||190||R-So.||Mundelein, Ill.||Carmel Catholic|
|35||Sean Boyd||Defensive Back||5-9||180||R-So.||St. Louis, Mo.||Christian Brothers|
|53||Joe Hoy||Linebacker||5-11||210||R-So.||Wauconda, Ill||Carmel Catholic|
|67||Jonah Dubinski||Offensive Lineman||6-2||295||R-So.||Columbia, Mo.||Rock Bridge|
|69||AJ Harris||Offensive Lineman||6-4||305||R-So.||Stilwell, Kan.||Blue Valley|
|81||Harley Whitehouse||Long Snapper||6-0||225||R-So.||St. Louis, Mo.||Parkway Central|
|94||Tyrell Jacobs||Defensive Lineman||6-4||280||R-So.||Kenner, La.||Rummel|
Realistically, only a few have potential based on what we've seen so far in their careers. I took the liberty to pair down the list to include the upperclassman included their recruiting ranking alongside their details.
#6 J’Mon Moore
Wide Receiver 6-3 205 R-Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8653
J’Mon Moore returns for his senior year after leading the SEC with 62 catches for 1,012 yards (16.3 YPC) and 8 touchdowns—and probably dropped passes, something we here at Rock M Nation examined thoroughly.
J’Mon Moore came under fire last year for two main reasons. One, he had a bunch of drops. Two, the Tigers’ pass offense was not very efficient when it threw to him.
Compare him to most feature receivers in the country, and his completion percentage (49.2) when thrown to was very poor.
J’Mon Moore has the physical frame that normally impress NFL scouts. You might be able to write off playing as the #1 option on the offensively challenged 2015 team and only recording 29 catches for 350 yards and 3 TDs as a product of playing the season with a serious shoulder injury. But then there are the rumored run-ins with coaches as well as being benched against Kentucky and South Carolina last year and it’s fair to wonder if he’s carrying too much baggage.
Like it or not, Moore’s role in 2015’s protest hurt his reputation with many fans but he remains Missouri’s best receiving threat. CBS Sports ranks Moore the #17th WR prospect for the 2018 draft, which makes him the 3rd ranked receiver in the SEC, behind LSU’s D.J. Chark (a 3 star recruit) and Alabama’s Robert Foster (a 5 star recruit). And again, he teamed up with Damarea Crockett to become only the fifth Mizzou rushing and receiving tandem to both have 1,000 yard seasons.
Damarea Crockett & J'Mon Moore are Missouri's 5th 1,000-yard rusher & receiver tandem in team history. The others ... pic.twitter.com/BM1eQmCiYW— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) November 26, 2016
J’Mon Moore can stretch the field and when focused makes acrobatic catches in tough coverage. If Moore can come back healthy and demonstrate superior catching consistency, he can bolster his draft stock. Until then I think he remains a borderline Day 2 selection. Projection: 3rd round pick
#10 Jason Reese
Tight End 6-5 255 R-Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8375
The school that made Kellen Winslow a first round pick back in 1979 hasn’t had a tight end drafted since Michael Egnew was selected in the 3rd round in 2012. After Martin Rucker (2008: 4th round) and Chase Coffman (2009: 3rd round) it has become apparent even the most prolific Missouri tight ends don’t draw enough interest from NFL scouts.
Michael Egnew is now an assistant position tight ends coach; A. J. Ofodile, himself a 5th round pick in 1994, is Missouri’s Director of Recruiting Operations. Josh Heupel’s offense, with assistance from Joe Jon Finley, is essentially Baylor’s spread-smash system that doesn’t really emphasis the tight end. It seems that Missouri is planning on Kendall Blanton inheriting Sean Culkin’s pass catching duties and keeping Jason Reese as a hybrid H-back/TE who’s primarily job is blocking in the run game. It could take a lot for him to get noticed that way. Projection: UDFA
#16 Marcell Frazier
Defensive Lineman 6-5 265 R-Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8744
Marcell Frazier’s year is going to be very interesting to track. After a quiet first half to 2016, he came on strong at the tail end—freed perhaps from a restrictive and mismanaged defensive philosophy that nearly derailed Charles Harris’ career. Frazier finished with 34 tackles, 8.5 sacks and only 9.5 tackles for a loss, but 6.5 of those sacks and 7.5 of those TFLs came in Missouri’s final three games.
Frazier has stated he originally came to Missouri because of #DLineZou’s reputation for getting guys to the NFL; a reputation that since departed defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski was almost entirely responsible for creating. Frazier played under Coach Kul for one year before seeing a revolving door of position coaches: Chris Wilson, Jackie Shipp and now Brick Haley.
A broken arm kept Frazier out of the last week of practices this spring but he’s primed to become a focal point of Missouri’s pass rush. With Barry Odom, DeMontie Cross and Brick Haley reportedly sticking with the 4-3/nickel defensive scheme that brought Mizzou so much success, Frazier’s final year in Columbia might need to resemble Michael Sam’s SEC DPOY campaign to spring him out of a Day 2 selection. Projection: 3rd round pick
#22 Anthony Sherrils
Defensive Back 6-0 205 R-Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8591
Heading into the 2015 season, Anthony Sherrils’ star was on the rise. We already know he has SEC speed—maybe even NFL speed. Sherrils’ second career interception came versus West Virginia last year and we all remember his first: a game-sealing pick against UConn in 2015.
He also recorded a forced fumble and fumble recovery against UConn but, beyond tackles and a few deflected passes, that’s basically the summary of his impact on the Tiger’s defense.
The question is why can’t he lock down a starting safety spot for Mizzou? If Sherrils can transform that stupendous athleticism into production, specifically turnovers, then he significantly improves his chances of getting noticed and improving his value. As of right now I’m not sure he’s on anyone’s board. Projection: UDFA
#38 Eric Beisel
Linebacker 6-3 240 R-Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8672
Eric “Zeus” Beisel was stuck behind two solid run-stuffing linebackers, Andrew Wilson and Michael Scherer and it just so happens stuffing the run is Beisel’s forte. That may explain why it took so long for him to see the field.
The problem is, Beisel has not developed the range of skill sets needed to force his way into playing time. The two guys ahead of him had excellent college careers but went undrafted. That being said, if he calls his shot like he did against Arkansas, anything is possible. Projection: Day 3 pick
Names to Watch
#8 Thomas Wilson
Safety 5-10 200 Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8568
Quick! Who is Missouri’s lead returning tackler? If you cheated and said Thomas Wilson because this section is about him—that’s fine.
It’s probably not a great stat that two thirds of Mizzou’s returning tacklers, Wilson (58), Sherrils (53), Cam Hilton (49) and Ronnell Perkins (43), are all safeties. That’s far too many tackles being made too far down the field. Combined the four had 8.5 TFLs, 11 pass deflections, and two interceptions and the coaching staff didn’t seem like they could settle on who they wanted to give the most snaps. Not everything a safety does shows up on the stat sheet, but a lack of numbers won’t help one stand out in a crowded field.
#20 Kaleb Prewett
Safety 6-1 210 R-Jr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8534
The JUCO transfer from Kansas State is finally eligible and initial reports suggest he’s fighting for a starting position somewhere on the field. I’m honestly not sure what Prewett’s defined position is—he’s technically a safety but is supposedly going to play a hybrid linebacker role that was part of Missouri’s defensive identity under Dave Steckel.
Playing that position while having the athleticism to cover, the physicality to stuff the run and the capacity to grasp how offenses are trying to attack you is basically like being football’s Unicorn.
#21 Ish Witter
Running Back 5-10 195 Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8463
Consecutive seasons with 500+ yards rushing and a greater than 4.0 YPC average apparently is not enough to wow fans or scouts. Witter had the unenviable reward of becoming the feature back for Missouri’s historically bad 2015 offense, but somehow he shouldered the burden of the blame in addition to the carries. Another player who featured prominently in Missouri’s 2015 protest struggling to shed a negative stigma, Witter has to be relieved that Damarea Crockett stepped into that lead back spot and allowed him to return to his natural role as a third down specialist.
#28 Logan Cheadle
Defensive Back 5-10 180 Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8381
Somewhat undersized but with speed to burn, Cheadle hasn’t had many chances to test his mettle. Slotted in as a slot defender in his senior campaign he’ll have a chance to work within his skill set and could become a key part of Missouri’s secondary. Can he follow in the footsteps of E.J. Gaines and Aarion Penton?
#76 Tyler Howell
Offensive Lineman 6-8 330 Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8808
If #OLineZou is to really become a thing, it probably could use a mammoth left tackle to protect its blindside. Basically all the previous Missouri lineman drafted played out of position in college and for some reason ended up playing center in the pros. That doesn’t seem like the path for JUCO transfer Howell, who has helped make Missouri’s pass-happy style work, albeit with the benefit of a system that gets the ball out quickly.
There are going to be a lot of eyes on Drew Lock next year and if Howell can give his QB time to make multiple reads in an up-tempo offense, he might make a name for himself come next April.
But what about...?
#1 Anthony Hines
Safety 6-1 195 Sr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8556
When Hines transferred to Missouri, many thought Hines’ length and athleticism signaled a philosophical change for the Tigers’ secondary. Two years later, he hasn’t seen the field and moved from cornerback to a suddenly crowded safety group.
#95 Rashad Brandon
Defensive Line 6-3 305 R-Jr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.8445
How often do JUCO players have breakout seasons and get picked in the top half of the NFL draft the next year? Seems like it always takes 2-3 years. Brandon has turned a lot heads so far and if he can hold up to SEC competition he might move up some boards.
#3 Drew Lock
Quarterback 6-4 225 Jr. | 247sports: 4-star/0.9535
As much as he gets compared to Blaine Gabbert, Drew Lock isn’t declaring early. He’ll need fantastic junior and senior years to off-set his disappointing first two at Mizzou. Besides, 2018 is a loaded QB draft anyway—stick around Drew!
#5 Terry Beckner, Jr.
Defensive Lineman 6-4 290 Jr.| 247sports: 5-star/0.9918
Obvious mitigating factors, including two ACL injuries, have derailed Terry Beckner’s career. If he can recover and show he’s still the explosive, disruptive DT we saw start the past two seasons, there’s potential for an early jump from the former blue-chip recruit.
#26 Corey Fatony
Punter 5-11 205 Jr. | 247sports: 3-star/0.7941
A punter declaring early for the Draft—wouldn’t that be something? This is here purely to scare you into remembering Mizzou only has two more years of the best punter in America.
Alright, what do you think? Did I miss anyone? Was I too harsh about your favorite player? Are you upset because I disrespected your son? Are you absolutely positive Drew Lock is going to declare early?
Let me know in the comments.