Ole Miss draft aftermath

Draft aftermath thoughts on a Sunday morning …

It was not totally surprising to see Cody Prewitt go undrafted.

There was never as much buzz for Prewitt, a two-time AP All-American, in this draft as there was for his teammate, Senquez Golson.

Ultimately Golson went a little higher than expected when the Steelers took him the second round with the 56th pick.

Prewitt was projected by some to go as high as the fourth round but didn’t go at all.

He quickly signed a free agent deal with the Titans, one of four Ole Miss players to sign as a free agent Saturday. He’ll get a shot, but he’ll have to overcome the idea that big hits are the only thing he brings to the table.

Pre-draft analysis questioned Prewitt’s coverage skills and his open-field tackling.

His big hits are impressive, and so is his football savvy. So many times you could see Prewitt go for the strip – and sometimes pull it off – once he was sure he had the tackle in hand.

I think Prewitt will earn a roster spot as a punishing hitter on special teams. Hopefully he’ll impress in some other areas too.

The Ole Miss draft underscored what the next league emphasizes, and that’s potential over production.

So many people approach the draft with the idea that college success will impress NFL teams. It doesn’t. They draft on how they think they can develop a player, so natural ability is important.

Senquez Golson’s athleticism helped him go a little higher than his projections. Most had him going in the third round.

Speaking of potential over production, the Bills took Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby five picks ahead of Golson.

Golson, an AP All-American, led the SEC with 10 interceptions and made big plays in big games like the game-clinching interception against Alabama.

Darby was third-team All-ACC.

But Darby is two inches taller than Golson and ran a 4.38 40 at the combine compared to Golson’s 4.46.

Potential over production.

In the case of Carlos Thompson – who signed with the Texans – production did matter a little bit. He’d had only eight tackles in three seasons before 2014, his senior year. It was important to show he could make some plays, and he did.

Thompson’s signing out of Hollandale-Simmons as an edge rusher created a lot of buzz, but he was never able to stick on the field until finding a role in his final season. He was hampered by injuries much of his career, and it seems like there was a brief flirtation with the idea of moving Thompson to tight end.

He had good scores at Ole Miss’ pro day, and he’s 6-foot-5, 243 pounds. NFL training really changed the bodies of former Ole Miss athletes Jermey Parnell, Greg Hardy and Patrick Willis. That could happen for Thompson too.

I’m glad Bo Wallace is getting a chance with the Chiefs. He made a lot of big plays and won a lot of games after arriving at the low point for modern day Ole Miss football.

Wallace, though, could never distance himself from turnovers, not just interceptions. Ball protection is non-negotiable and will be the biggest factor in determining the length of your career. Maybe the Chiefs can get Wallace over the hump, but he’s going to have to show improvement in that regard early.

Lavon Hooks wasn’t the first name you’d think about in conversations about the Ole Miss defensive line last year.

He was an important part of the unit’s depth, however, and took advantage of limited opportunities to make plays. More than a third of his 17 tackles – 6.5 – were behind the line of scrimmage. That tells you he’s holding ground and not getting pushed around.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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