By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Dexter McCluster doesn’t know what team might take him in the NFL draft, but he has a very good idea of when he’ll be taken.
“I’m expecting first round, personally. I think someone out there is going to take that chance,” he said.
McCluster electrified the Ole Miss fan base and put the Rebels on his back over the second half of last season, becoming the first player in SEC history to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.
The same production with more weight on his bones might have him in discussions as the No. 1 pick.
Instead, most projections have McCluster, at 5-foot-9, 172 pounds, as a middle to late second-round pick.
The NFL draft, at Radio City Music Hall in New York, begins with the first round tonight at 6:30 p.m., on ESPN. The second and third rounds follow Friday, beginning at 5 p.m., and the draft concludes with rounds four to seven on Saturday with a 9 a.m. start.
Among other Ole Miss players, offensive lineman John Jerry and defensive end Greg Hardy could go in the third round, projections say.
Quarterback Jevan Snead, a year ago mentioned as the No. 1 pick, is projected as a possible seven-rounder, perhaps a free agent.
Free safety Kendrick Lewis could here his name called on Saturday.
McCluster has worked out for New England, Kansas City, Washington, Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco among other teams. Some he’s flown to see, some have come to Oxford.
They’ve worked him at running back, slot receiver and special teams.
“It’s a plus for the scouts that I can do several things,” McCluster said. “Size always seems to be a topic of discussion, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.”
McCluster rushed for 1,169 yards and eight touchdowns on 183 carries last season. He also had 44 catches for 520 yards and three more touchdowns.
After taking over at tailback for the last five SEC games plus the Cotton Bowl, McCluster rushed for 1,005 yards including a school-record 282 yards against Tennessee.
While the buzz around McCluster began to build, his stock really increased the week of the Senior Bowl in Mobile when scouts saw him make plays and began to see his determination first hand.
“The No. 1 question everywhere I go is, ‘Who’s going to replace No. 22?’” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “Nobody is.”
McCluster will watch the draft at a restaurant in his hometown of Largo, Fla. He expects his phone to ring before the first round is complete.
“God has given me this opportunity, and I’m going to respect it and be humble. I’m confident, not cocky. Somebody’s going to take that (first-round) chance, but if not, if it’s the second round, I’m going to make sure I make a good impression.”
Today – First Round – 6:30 p.m.
Friday – Rounds 2-3 – 5 p.m.
Saturday – Rounds 4-7, 9 a.m.
(ESPN, NFL Network)
Friday: Who’ll be the first drafted from Miss. State?