While the 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago from April 28-30 this year, the figurative epicenter should be 616 miles south in Oxford, Miss.
Three draft-eligible underclassmen from Ole Miss are expected to highlight the early portion of Day 1 of the draft. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell could all hear their names called in the first few rounds of the draft. Tunsil may even flirt with be the first-overall selection.
While expectations remain high, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. cast a shadow of doubt over two-thirds of the Rebels’ vaunted trio after he released the first version of his 2016 NFL mock draft on Thursday.
Kiper predicted Nkemdiche would fall to No. 13 overall and be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s a far cry from anticipated top-five draft slots, which were tossed around early in the season.
Treadwell’s draft stock didn’t seem far off expectations – Kiper had him going seventh to the San Francisco 49ers – but the draft guru did warn that the Ole Miss receivers’ high draft status could plummet.
“He has tremendous hands, huge hands, great size, but the comparisons to Alshon Jeffery are accurate,” Kiper said during a conference call. “But Alshon Jeffery was a second-round pick. We’re talking about a top-10 pick here. So, he’s got to run well enough to warrant being that high a pick.”
To avoid falling lower to where comparable receivers were selected in previous drafts, Treadwell needs to run fast at the NFL combine and also during his subsequent Pro Day workout.
Oakland Raider Amari Cooper (Round 1, Pick 4) and Chicago Bear Kevin White (Round 1, Pick 7) were both top-10 receiver selections last year. Cooper ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and White’s time was 4.35, blazing fast compared to Jeffrey’s 4.48 time prior to be taken in the second round of the 2012 draft.
When Kiper placed Treadwell at No. 7, he said he did so based off the expectation that he’d perform great in pre-draft workouts. Leading the SEC in receiving touchdowns (11) and yards per game (88.7) didn’t hurt either, but one simple aspect of Treadwell’s combine performance (speed) could be the telling point as to whether or not the Ole Miss playmaker sticks in the top 10.
“I think that’s a little high for Treadwell,” Kiper said of his draft slot at No. 7. “I gave him to the 49ers assuming that he runs well.”
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