Ole Miss did not have a player selected in the NFL draft for the first time since 1999 but was quick to see players sign free agent contracts, including basketball standout Murphy Holloway with Baltimore.
The defending Super Bowl champions were one of the teams that Holloway worked out for prior to the draft, which ran Thursday through Saturday.
Defensive tackles Uriah Grant (Jacksonville) and Gilbert Pena (Green Bay), offensive lineman A.J. Hawkins (Kansas City) and former defensive end Gerald Rivers (St. Louis) also signed free agent deals.
Rivers last played for Ole Miss in 2011.
There was no immediate word Saturday on multi-purpose player Randall Mackey. He also worked out for some teams in advance of the draft, and it’s expected that Mackey will get a shot somewhere.
The lack of an Ole Miss player being drafted was not a real surprise. Late projections had Pena possibly being taken in the final round. Holloway is an interesting story, and because of his athleticism may be one of the Rebels’ top free agent prospects, but there didn’t seem to be so much interest in him among other teams that a team needed to use a draft pick.
Also signing a free agent contract with the Ravens is former Ole Miss quarterback Nathan Stanley. He played his last two seasons at Southeastern Louisiana.
I’m thinking Holloway or Pena has the best chance to make a roster.
USA Today has compiled a list of its best undrafted players for this season with Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray leading the way. Wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, once a Vol, makes the list too.
Arkansas guard Alvin Bailey is on the list. Bailey, like Bray, thought it best to come out after his junior season following a losing season and coaching change at his school.
There are no Ole Miss players on the list.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson was another name of interest who thought his call might come earlier. Ultimately Wilson was taken in the fourth round by the Raiders.
The SEC produced a record 63 draft picks. Ole Miss was the only school that did not have a player drafted.
That Ole Miss players were not valued more by NFL teams is not surprising. It’s in lock step with the fact that the Rebels had lost 14 straight and 16 of 17 within the SEC when Hugh Freeze took over.
Had there been more playmakers in this senior class those numbers would have been different.
That’s not to say there weren’t valuable contributions from that group in Freeze’s turnaround season. There were, particularly from Mackey, Pena and Grant.
The important news for Ole Miss is not that no players were drafted in 2013 but there are players on the 2013 roster with an excellent chance to be drafted in years to come.
Donte Moncrief comes to mind immediately, maybe Jeff Scott, then a number of others who could develop into draft-worthy status.