How Ole Miss plans to replace its 3 potential first-round picks
Ole Miss fans will potentially see three Rebels players taken in the top 20 picks of this spring’s NFL Draft. Laremy Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche, and Laquon Treadwell, all juniors, are all projected to be first-round selections.
The departures leave some daunting holes for coach Hugh Freeze to fill this season. Ole Miss is going to be counting on new recruits to help replace Tunsil, Nkemdiche, and Treadwell.
Tunsil, rum0red as a possible be the No. 1 pick for the Tennessee Titans, had a great year when he wasn’t suspended. The left tackle missed the first seven games due to an NCAA investigation, but his draft stock may have risen because Ole Miss was so much better running the ball with him in the lineup.
In SEC games without Tunsil, Ole Miss averaged 104 rushing yards. In conference games with him, the Rebels averaged about 201 yards on the ground.
With senior OT Fahn Cooper also leaving, it is possible for five-star commit Gregory Little to replace Tunsil at left tackle. Little was ranked the second-best recruit of the 2016 class according to 247Sports.
The Rebels will lack some depth on the defensive line as well. In addition to Nkemdiche entering the draft, defensive linemen Channing Ward and Woodrow Hamilton are leaving. Therefore, Ole Miss could turn to another five-star recruit, Benito Jones.
The 6-foot-2, 285 pound defensive tackle was ranked the sixth-best recruit at his position. Jones is also the third player Ole Miss has landed ranked in the top 25 overall, according to 247 Sports. Two of those three could start as freshmen.
Fortunately, the Rebels have more experience on the roster ready to replace Treadwell. Besides departing WR Cody Core, the rest of the top receivers will return, including junior Quincy Adeboyejo, who was second on the team with 38 receptions and seven TDs.
Redshirt junior Damore’ea Stringfellow, will be counted upon to be a big-play threat. Stringfellow had 36 receptions, 503 yards and five TDs in 2015.
Ole Miss will also have four-star commit DeKaylin Metcalf to provide depth. Standing at nearly 6-foot-4, Metcalf gives QB Chad Kelly another big target.
Replacing Tunsil, Nkemdiche and Treadwell won’t be easy. But the Rebels have veterans and highly touted recruits ready to contribute.