I’ll be really frank here: since the Rams left St. Louis, I don’t really watch the NFL. The only full game I sat down to watch last year was the Super Bowl, and before that I probably caught about 15 minutes of professional ball.
However, one yearly ritual I haven’t yet given up on is the NFL draft. I can’t really say why. Maybe it’s the fact that one of my best friends is a Browns fan, and I really enjoy watching him psych himself up for draft day every year, only to be perennially disappointed. Or perhaps it’s because it’s an excuse to play armchair analyst about a lot of college football players I really like before I lose track of them in the next phase of their careers. Regardless, it’s something I watch every year.
One thing that has luckily been pretty consistent over the past few years is the guarantee that I’ll hear a few Missouri Tigers called. That’s usually the highlight of the whole weekend for me. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of an opportunity this year. J’Mon Moore was the only Tiger to be selected, and he had to wait until day three, long after many people quit watching, especially people like me who are only watching for the schadenfreude anyway.
Next year promises to be different though. Seeing as Missouri already had to wait on two stars to declare they would return for their senior seasons, the 2019 NFL Draft should be littered with former Tigers making their way into the league. As a perfect practice in offseason Rock M Nation #content, let’s take a way-too-early look at which Tiger seniors could be drafted in each round. I’ve also included some thoughts on places I think it would be fun to see them play.
Round 1: Drew Lock
In all seriousness, though, Lock is already pretty much a [wait for it] lock to go Top 10 in next year’s draft... assuming he doesn’t suffer some serious injury or take a major step back on the field. He’s one of the top three quarterbacks on most draft lists already, and another year could vault him into consideration for the first overall pick. Quarterback needy teams always get desperate come draft night, and Lock could be a beneficiary.
Dream destination: It’s highly unlikely this would happen, but mercy me would it be fun to see a team like the Saints make a move for Lock. Drew Brees is getting older, but is still productive, which would allow Lock a year or two to learn under one of the more prolific statistical quarterbacks in recent NFL history.
Round 2: Terry Beckner, Jr.
The days of Terry Beckner, Jr. as a first-round pick are probably over, but if TBJ proves he can stay healthy, someone will undoubtedly be getting a first-round talent. Beckner took time to get back to 100% after his two ACL tears before really turning the jets on in the Idaho-UConn-Florida stretch. He finished with 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks on the year.
Again, the health is a concern as an interior linemen with bum knees will not last long in the NFL. But TBJ is a powerhouse in the trenches, and his health will likely be the only thing standing in his way of a monster senior season. That he’ll be drafted is likely not in question, but rather how high.
Dream destination: Beckner would be a handful in between a pair of good defensive ends as he is more than capable of creating havoc in the backfield and stuffing up the middle. Put him between Julius Peppers and Mario Addison on the Panthers and watch him thrive.
Round 3: Terez Hall
If there are any other defenders on the Missouri roster that aren’t far from cementing themselves as draft weekend locks, Terez Hall could be one. He’s captured the attention of draftniks at PFF (Second Team All-SEC in 2017), and his athleticism would certainly play in the NFL.
Hall will need to continue proving himself as a capable defender in pass coverage. The SEC is as good a place as any to prove you can take on fast, physical playmakers week-in-and-week-out. Hall’s prospects are looking up, and he’s going to have every opportunity to prove himself as worthy of a spot next spring.
Dream destination: This is where my lack of football knowledge creeps in, and I say I have no idea which defenses would be a best fit for Hall. I do really like watching him play football, though, so it would be cool to watch him go to a team that plays hard-nosed defense and is able to develop him well. Let’s say the Jaguars.
Round 4: Paul Adams
Out of all these names, Paul Adams might actually be one of the safest to hear his name called. Adams has been rock solid on the line the past few years, and gets a lot of praise from Pro Football Focus. The line’s emergence as a team strength the past two seasons has a lot to do with his play.
Like Beckner, my only question with Adams is how high he could be drafted. Line depth is always a must for any team, and it could take a bit of development before Adams adjusts to the bruising quality of the NFL. He may not be as NFL ready as a lot more athletic choices, but that doesn’t always act as a barrier to sustained NFL success.
Dream destination: Anywhere Adams could sit behind a good offensive line and learn before getting his feet wet would probably be the best scenario for him. The Bills just traded up to get Josh Allen as their QB of the future [oh, Bills...why?], and they rely pretty heavily on LeSean McCoy. Their OL rated as one of the best in the NFL last year, so Adams could have a good opportunity up north.
Round 5: Emanuel Hall
Emanuel Hall was arguably Drew Lock’s most effective downfield threat in 2017, and you can’t fault Hall that he was sort of a one-dimensional threat. He did one thing for defenses to prevent, and they often couldn’t do it. Hall gets open deep and will come down with some contested balls. The promise of an added repertoire could signal the shot at an NFL future.
Still, he’ll likely need a big senior season to break onto a lot of team’s draft boards. J’Mon Moore was one of the best wideouts Missouri ever had, and he lasted until day three. Hall is sometimes plagued by the same drop-related issues that haunted Moore throughout his stay in Columbia. Better hands and a more diverse tape would do wonders for Hall’s future.
Dream destination: I’d love to see Hall go to a team with a big-armed quarterback who can sling it downfield as Hall takes the top off of a defense. The Packers usually cycle through receivers pretty fast and could be looking for some young depth.
Round 6: Corey Fatony
This one is a bit of a pipe dream, I’ll admit. I’m a major Fatony stan, and he’s undoubtedly one of the better punters in the country (13th in average punt distance last year), but you usually don’t get drafted unless you’re a punting wizard like Michael Dickson.
[thousand yard stare kicks in]
On the optimistic side though, two or three punters get drafted every year, and if Fatony turns in another good campaign, he could be the first Missouri punter to ever play on Sundays. Bonus: whichever team drafts Fatony will automatically make $100 in jersey sales from me.
Dream destination: I guess who really cares where punters go, but anywhere Fatony can win a Super Bowl ring or two would be ideal. Let’s say the Eagles.
Round 7: Kendall Blanton
Blanton is another big stretch here. After cementing himself as the go-to TE option in 2016, he was usurped by Albert Okwuegbunam (first try!), who will likely be one of Drew Lock’s favorite targets this year. Blanton is going to have to do a lot of things well to prove his draft bonafides.
But the talent is there, as evidenced by his breakout 2016 season. Blanton is a sturdy target with good hands who can make explosive plays downfield. The number of scenarios where Blanton hears his name called aren’t many, but they exist. It’s up to him to make them happen.
Dream destination: Blanton would almost certainly be a reach for a team that is set on talent and willing to take a flyer on a high upside guy. It would be really fun to see him go to a team like the Patriots where he can learn under coaches like Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniel and maybe play under Rob Gronkowski for a year or two.
Other names that missed the cut
OL Kevin Pendleton, LB Brandon Lee, DE Nate Anderson, DT Rashad Brandon, OL Samson Bailey