Ranking Mizzou’s 10 best players in the NFL
The Missouri Tigers had a very unusual showing in the 2019 NFL Draft.
First, star QB Drew Lock fell out of the first round entirely, going to the Denver Broncos in the second round of the event. Then, and even more surprisingly, speedy WR Emanuel Hall didn’t hear his name called at all.
Still, Lock found a team and Hall was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent. Now, they’ll join fellow former Missouri stars in the NFL ranks.
That begs the question — who are the top Tigers on NFL rosters? Here’s a look at how I’d rank the 10 best pro Mizzou guys.
(Note: Former Denver edge rusher Shane Ray is a free agent. Otherwise, he’d be in the top half of this list. DL Kony Ealy also is a free agent.)
E.J. Gaines, CB, Buffalo Bills
Entering Year 5 of his career, Gaines has played for three teams and will be on his second stint with the Bills this fall. He was injured for much of the 2018 season, which he spent with the Cleveland Browns. He had 3 forced fumbles and an interception during his first year with the Bills in 2017.
10. Emanuel Hall, WR, Chicago Bears
I’m not sure the Bears are the right fit for Hall, so I was a bit surprised he chose to sign with them after going undrafted last month. However, I do expect him to end up on a roster this fall, as he was a third-round talent who inexplicably fell out of the draft.
His speed and ability to take the top off a defense will play well with a big-armed quarterback like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Denver’s Joe Flacco (and Drew Lock, his college quarterback) or New Orleans’ Drew Brees, among others.
If he finds the right spot, he’ll be a weapon. If not, he could be relegated to a practice squad this fall.
9. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gabbert will be playing for his fifth team in nine years this fall, but he deserves credit for hanging around in the NFL. He always seems to end up making a handful of starts for whatever team he ends up on, so I’m not sure what that means for Jameis Winston this year.
Either way, Gabbert has made a nice career for himself as an NFL backup, even if he never lived up to the first-round pick he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
8. Drew Lock, QB, Denver Broncos
Before he even plays a snap in the NFL, Lock is already No. 8 on this list. He will likely serve as a backup for Joe Flacco this year, unless the Broncos start to struggle. Then, fan sentiment might turn on the one-time Super Bowl champion in favor of the rookie.
For now, though, Lock will be busy soaking up everything he can and learning the playbook. From there, he’ll get up to speed with the NFL game. In 2020, he could land the full-time starting job, and he could put together quite the career in Denver.
7. Charles Harris, edge rusher, Miami Dolphins
Harris has only recorded 38 tackles and 3 sacks over his 2 years in the NFL, failing to live up to his status as a first-round pick. However, he’s still a starter for the Dolphins, and is still young enough to come around.
He faces a make-or-break 2019 season, but he has the talent to turn things around and become the pass rusher the Dolphins thought they were getting in 2017.
6. Chase Daniel, QB, Chicago Bears
Daniel has carved out quite a career in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints and has played for five teams during his 10-year career.
Now with the Chicago Bears, he’s the backup for Mitchell Trubisky. Last year, he made 2 starts, bringing his career total to 4 starts. He has never landed a full-time starting job, but he’s a solid backup who has thrown for 995 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his career.
5. Connor McGovern, C/G, Denver Broncos
Here, we get to the first of 3 NFL centers who played in Columbia. McGovern is a key piece of the Broncos’ offensive line, and can play both guard positions as well as center.
Soon, he could be blocking for Drew Lock again.
4. Mitch Morse, C, Buffalo Bills
Morse moves to Buffalo after spending the first 4 years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He played so well for the Chiefs, though, that he got rewarded with a huge contract in Buffalo.
The Bills gave Morse a 4-year, $44.5-million contract this offseason, making him the highest-paid center in the NFL.
3. Justin Britt, C, Seattle Seahawks
Since he was a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Britt has spent his entire career with the Seahawks. He has played tackle and guard, but really seems to have found a home at center.
He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016 and will continue to be tasked with blocking for QB Russell Wilson, who is now the highest-paid player in the NFL.
2. Sheldon Richardson, DL, Cleveland Browns
Richardson has been a consistent plug-and-play guy along the interior defensive line for his 6-year career. After spending the first 4 years with the New York Jets, he’s played 1 year in Seattle and 1 in Minnesota.
Now, he’s hoping he’s found a long-term home in Cleveland, where he’ll join the quickly improving Browns. He had 4.5 sacks and 49 tackles last season, so we’ll see if he can improve those numbers alongside a star defensive end like Myles Garrett.
1. Markus Golden, edge rusher, New York Giants
Golden is with a new team after spending the previous 4 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Now with the Giants, he’ll try to return to his 2016 form, when he had 12.5 sacks, 51 tackles and 4 forced fumbles.
He tore his ACL early in the 2017 season and didn’t look the same in 2018, but he should be healthy and eager to prove he deserves a long-term contract this fall.
He’s an outstanding edge rusher when he’s at 100 percent, so we’ll see what he can do in the Big Apple this year.