Mississippi State

Mississippi State's Chris Jones could sneak into 1st round of NFL Draft

ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESSArkansas quarterback Brandon Allen (10) is sacked by Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones, left.
ROGELIO V. SOLIS/ASSOCIATED PRESSArkansas quarterback Brandon Allen (10) is sacked by Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones, left. AP

There was a time eight years ago where it was an uncommon occurrence to see a Mississippi State Bulldog in the NFL Draft.

In the six years prior to head coach Dan Mullen's arrival in Starkville, the Bulldogs had 12 players drafted, four of which came after MSU's last bowl trip in 2000.

Now Mullen is churning out the NFL talent in Starkville with 18 players drafted from 2010-2015. Only once has MSU managed just one player in the draft since that time when Gabe Jackson was picked in the third round by the Oakland Raiders in 2011.

In the last five years, Mullen has put 16 players in the NFL draft which, according to ESPN.com's Chris Lowe, is seventh in the SEC.

Now Mullen has a chance to have a handful of Bulldogs selected starting Thursday when the NFL Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. on ESPN and the NFL Network. Chris Jones and Dak Prescott are the heavy favorites to be first selected. Jones has a great chance of being Mullen's third first-round draft pick, joining Derek Sherrod and Fletcher Cox.

In the latest mock draft by CBSSports.com, they have Jones going as high as 18th overall in the first round to the Indianapolis Colts. Jones tested well at the NFL Combine earlier this year where he measured in at 6'6, 310 pounds with a 29 ½ inch vertical and he ran well at 5.03 in his 40-yard dash with 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

His performance at the combine and flashes of excellence on tape has NFL teams intrigued but there's a question as to whether or not he can bring his motor every Sunday. Green Bay and Indianapolis have been the teams heavily interested in the Bulldog defensive lineman.

Dak attack

While Jones will unquestionably be picked the highest of all Bulldogs in the draft, MSU fans are most interested in seeing where their record-setting quarterback will be picked this weekend.

Prescott impressed in his progression as a quarterback, especially with the jump he made as a passer his senior year. An MVP of the Senior Bowl and solid showings at the Combine and the on-campus pro day solidified Prescott's name in the conversation of an early-to-mid round pick in the draft.

MSU's all-time leader in over 30 offensive categories did run into a snag in the offseason, however. Shortly after his pro day, Prescott was arrested for driving under the influence. He addressed that arrest in a statement immediately following the breaking news.

"I'm very remorseful for my misjudgment," Prescott said in his statement. "I want to apologize to my true supporters, my family, Mississippi State University, the NFL and the kids who look up to me. I won't ask for forgiveness; however, I'll show the true man I am and exhibit my character through my actions and behavior moving forward."

Prescott has since had several meetings and workouts for the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans and the impact of his arrest won't be known until his name is called at some point this weekend.

More Bulldogs

The latest mock drafts also have cornerbacks Will Redmond (fourth round) and Taveze Calhoun (sixth round) getting picked. Redmond was set to be one of the top incoming corners for the draft prior to tearing his ACL during the season.Wide receiver De'Runnya Wilson and linebacker Beniquez Brown could get picked in the final two rounds.