It’s not officially NFL draft season until Mel Kiper Jr. releases his first mock draft of the year. Thankfully for draft enthusiasts, Thursday was that magical day.
The SEC got its fair share of love. Four Alabama players were listed in the first 20 picks and three players –Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and two former Ole Miss standouts – landed in the top 10.
One of those Rebels’ stars was offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who protected quarterback Chad Kelly’s blind side during the portion of the 2015 campaign he played. Kelly was just sacked 19 times this past season, only three SEC offensive lines protected their passer better. Tunsil only allowed five pressures on 225 attempts, according to Pro Football Focus, and during his 28 games with Ole Miss, Tunsil only allowed two sacks.
In Kiper’s mock, the ESPN draft analyst predicted Tunsil would land with the San Diego Chargers with the third overall pick.
“He’s got the strong powerful hands, great feet, (and) great balance … just (a) tremendous pass-blocker,” Kiper said during a conference call on Thursday. “He’s a guy that gets after you with enough fire, enough intensity out there as a run-blocker to be able to be a complete left tackle.”
Tunsil is so “complete,” said Kiper, he could certainly see the former Ole Miss star landing a bit higher in the draft than No. 3.
“I think he’s certainly worthy of being in the discussion to be the No. 1 pick to Tennessee,” Kiper said.
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