clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 40 Most Important Tigers: 30 to 26

As we draw closer to fall camp, we move on with our series counting down the 40 most important Tigers on the roster. Who are the players that will define this season in Columbia?

Missouri v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Welcome to the third installment of this series that will take us from the dog days of summer all the way up until kickoff against South Dakota. I’m ranking the top 40 footballing Tigers for the 2023 season, counting down five a week as we approach Labor Day weekend.

This idea is blatantly ripped off from a Florida State outlet, Noles247, which did their own ranking. I liked the concept and wanted to do it for our Tigers, so thanks to the team over there for the inspiration.

What defines an important player? Excellent play, of course, especially at important positions. Players who have high ceilings and low floors: high variance could define how a specific position group performs. Players at positions that are thin on the depth chart or looking to rebound after a tough season. Players getting the first opportunity to start at Mizzou, either as young players filling in for veterans or highly-touted transfers.

Previous articles in the series:



This week’s theme is: Line of Scrimmage Contributors. These are players that are battling for starting roles or proven to be key rotation guys in the trenches. They are not true difference makers for Missouri individually, but it takes a village to produce quality play along the line of scrimmage. Mizzou has to maintain last season’s excellent defensive line play while re-establishing competitiveness on the other side of the ball. Let’s get into this batch of LOS contributors and see if Eli Drinkwitz has built a deep enough stable of big uglies.

30: Xavier Delgado, Graduate, Offensive Guard

Xavier Delgado has been in Columbia for a long time – in fact, he’s the only one in this batch to have committed to the Tigers out of high school. He has played three seasons of mostly uninspiring left guard. It would be a pleasant surprise if we saw a significant jump in performance at this late stage in his career — in fact, it might be better for the team overall if he is supplanted by a different option with more upside. Delgado will begin fall camp as the starter at left guard, but he will be pushed by EJ Ndoma-Ogar. Even if he does not start he will certainly see playing time and perhaps he has a late-career level-up.

29: Josh Landry, Graduate, Defensive Tackle

Josh Landry joined the team last offseason from Baylor, part of a wave of Power Five transfers who remade the front seven in one fell swoop. He played 180 snaps for the Tigers last fall, even though he was slowed by a hand injury in October. His play is important as a high-floor rotation player, and he could even be in line for more playing time as Darius Robinson looks to assume some responsibilities on the edge.

28: Jayden Jernigan, Senior, Defensive Tackle

The Mizzou defense has a very high floor, and part of the reason for that is the return of so much interior depth and production. Jernigan and Landry are both key parts of that luxury. Jernigan, an Oklahoma State transfer, also gives Blake Baker alignment versatility. According to PFF charting, Jernigan lined up about two-thirds of the time as a three-technique, but he also played some nose guard, and even played 32 snaps at end during the bowl game against Wake Forest. That versatility will be critical this fall as Baker mixes and matches to find his best rotations up front.

27: Joe Moore, Junior, Defensive End

Joe Moore is the only newcomer on this list, but like his fellow defensive line transfers last year, he will have every chance to see immediate action. The Missouri legacy arrives from Arizona State, where accumulated five sacks over about 700 snaps in the past two seasons. Missouri’s defensive end rotation is thin. The Tigers have unproven pass-rushing options in Johnny Walker, DJ Wesolak, and Nyles Gaddy at the position, but only Moore has played significant snaps setting the edge in a Power Five conference. Moore should at least be able to replicate Trajan Jeffcoat’s production from the defensive end position last fall (three sacks, 17 pressures).

26: EJ Ndoma-Ogar, Junior, Offensive Guard

The former Oklahoma transfer saw limited action last fall, breaking into the rotation late last season before suffering a foot injury that ended his campaign. He has played about a hundred snaps each of the past two seasons for Mizzou, and I expect that number to increase this fall. If the former four-star recruit lives up to his prospect pedigree, that will be a key ingredient in the Tigers rebuilding the interior of their offensive line. This veteran team will have very few starting position battles waged in fall camp, on either side of the ball. The competition between Ndoma-Ogar and Delgado for the left guard job will be a litmus test if Drinkwitz and staff will be sticking with low-ceiling veterans or placing their trust in unproven potential.