NFL

Mississippi State Well Represented in Sixth Round

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Mississippi State had two players drafted in the first five rounds: LB Benardrick McKinney (second round, Texans) and DE Preston Smith (second round, Redskins). The Bulldogs then busted open the floodgates in the sixth round, with three more players getting that coveted phone call.

It started with the second pick in the round, No. 178 overall, when the Patriots added LB Matthew Wells. After starting all 13 games last season, Wells helped his draft cause immensely by running in the 4.4s during his Pro Day. Although he played outside linebacker in college, he will likely slide inside in New England, using his tremendous speed to cover tight ends and running backs in obvious passing situations. He will also play an integral role on special teams.

The next Bulldog (TE Malcolm Johnson) went 17 picks later to the Browns, who are the hands-down winners of this year’s draft (Nate Orchard and Vince Mayle were freaking steals). Johnson will play an H-back role in Cleveland, often lining up in the backfield as a fullback, as the Browns look to build a bully that can throw its weight around, even in the black-and-blue AFC North.

The third Mississippi State product to go in the sixth round is the one with the biggest name — and most impressive resumé. That would be running back Josh Robinson, who joins the AFC South favorites in Indianapolis. A powerful runner who won’t go down on first contact (unlike a certain someone the Colts recently wasted a first-round pick on), Robinson moved into the starting lineup for the first time last season and responded by rushing for more than 1,200 yards. He now shares a backfield with Frank Gore, a similarly powerful back who will be an excellent role model.

Mississippi State captured the attention of the football world after shockingly starting last season 9-0. It’s clear NFL scouts were paying attention, as well, and now those Bulldog players are reaping the rewards for their efforts by being called up to the Big Leagues.

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“I thought the Jaguars would live to regret passing on USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams at No. 3 overall, and they still might, but getting a great EDGE guy in Dante Fowler Jr., there and then getting Michael Bennett in Round 6 is a great value play. Bennett has his flaws, but his descent is puzzling because he’s a definite disruptor along the interior line and he has better instincts than many of the players drafted above him. I’m not sure how much credit to give Gus Bradley and co. here because this one kinda just fell into their lap, but their defensive line got a whole lot better this weekend. I also continue to love what the Bengals are doing to add pieces to this defense. I thought Derron Smith could step in and help a team this season, but in Cincinnati, where Reggie Nelson had his most productive season as a pro last year, Smith won’t be pushed to contribute outside special teams on day one, and can grow into an eventual replacement.” – Devon Jeffreys

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to stack picks on the offensive side of the ball by adding stand out Utah return specialist Kailin Clay, and three teams dipped their toe into the shallow tight end pool, including the Buffalo Bills who added Florida State tight end and Jameis Winston favorite Nick O’Leary.

My favorite pick in Round-6 is Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett who played his best football for the Buckeyes during the national championship run. Bennett will join first round pick Dante Fowler as part of a rebuilt Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line that struggled to get to the quarterback a year ago.

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As the draft progresses into the late rounds, you stop looking for stars and start looking for guys who can simply make the team and contribute a little.  A couple picks that I’m intrigued by are the Baltimore Ravens, who have had an amazing draft, grabbing Georgia Tech wide receiver Darren Waller and the Indianapolis Colts selecting Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson.  Waller is a beast at 6-foot-6.5 and nearly 240 pounds and he could be converted to tight end as a red zone threat.  Robinson is short and compact and difficult to tackle.

This has been echoed, but the best pick in this round belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Stealing Michael Bennett in the sixth round is simply amazing and he will not only make the team but add to a defensive line rotation that could be downright nasty.


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.