It may only be September, but it never seems too early to discuss the NFL Draft. After upsetting Alabama on Saturday, several Ole Miss players saw their draft stocks improve, including Rebels defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche.
In fact, Nkemdiche rose all the way to No. 1 in CBS Sports’ 2016 NFL Mock Draft. CBS Sports went ahead and projected that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have the top pick next spring and would select Nkemdiche. Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith loves dominant defensive tackles, and pairing the Ole Miss defensive lineman with All-Pro lineman Gerald McCoy would quickly turn around the Tampa Bay defense.
Nkemdiche was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after recording six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one half-sack against Alabama.
Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell joined Nkemdiche as two other Rebels projected to go in the first round. In the CBS Sports mock draft, Tunsil went to Washington at pick No. 5 and Treadwell was selected 24th overall by Cincinnati.
Besides the three Rebels, the CBS Sports mock draft projected seven other SEC players to go in the first round: LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Texas A&M offensive tackle Germain Ifedi, Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson.
That means CBS Sports is predicting nearly a third of the 31 first-round picks — The New England Patriots lost their first-round pick as punishment for the “Deflategate” saga — for the 2016 NFL Draft will be players from the SEC.