The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs look to impress in the NFL

There are currently 29 former Mississippi State University football players on NFL rosters this preseason, however, nine players stick out among the rest as major successes. 

These are the players I expect to have the biggest impact on their teams.


Dak Prescott is the most famous NFL Bulldog after a stellar rookie season. Prescott fell all the way to the fourth round of the 2016 draft and was finally picked by the Dallas Cowboys. He entered preseason as Tony Romo’s backup.

However, Romo was injured and Dak earned the starting spot in the preseason. The rest was history, as Prescott’s play on the field was enough to hold onto the starting job even after Romo became healthy. He led Dallas to a 13-3 record and a playoff appearance. His performance earned him Rookie of the Year honors and a Pro Bowl appearance.

Prescott was also ranked as the 14th best player in the NFL in the NFL network’s annual top 100 list, which is voted on by the players. He comes into the 2017 season as the unquestioned starter and a leader of his team— I expect him to have another fantastic season getting ‘America’s team’ back to the playoffs.


Fletcher Cox was picked by the Eagles in the first round of the 2012 draft and has lived up to his billing ever since. He has established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons. After his breakout year in 2015, he earned a six-year contract extension worth over $100 million. He has accumulated 28.5 sacks in just five seasons and enters the 2017 season as the Eagles best player.


K.J. Wright was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Since he was drafted, he earned a starting spot as a rookie and has started at linebacker since he joined. Wright continued to get better each year and ultimately earned his first Pro Bowl appearance last season. Heading into the 2017 season, he and Bobby Wagner form the NFL’s best linebacker duo for one of the league’s best defenses. 


Darius Slay was selected in the second round by the Detroit Lions in 2013. Slay’s career began with to a shaky start, but he figured things out in his third season and established himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.

He earned a top 10 grade at his position from and ranked 44th in the site’s ranking of the top 101 NFL players of that season. His play dipped a little last season as he played through a hamstring injury that caused him to miss three games. 

Slay will look to bounce back in 2017 for a Lions team looking to get back to the playoffs. 


Pernell McPhee fell all the way to the 165th overall selection in the fifth round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. However, he proved to be a steal early in his career as he racked up six sacks in his rookie year. 

Over the first four seasons of his career, he became known as one of the toughest run defenders and power rushers in the league. Because of this, he ultimately went on to sign a five-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $38 million during the 2015 free agency period.

McPhee had a good first season with the Bears in 2015, but, unfortunately, he was plagued by injury most of last season and only managed to play in nine games. McPhee had another knee surgery this offseason and will start this season on the P.U.P. list—for now, he is out indefinitely.


Chris Jones fell to the Chiefs in second round of the 2016 draft in a class loaded at the defensive tackle position. Four other defensive tackles went in the first round of that draft and were picked ahead of Jones. However, Jones ultimately started in more games and outplayed them. 

Jones was the only interior defensive lineman in his class ranked in’s top 20 at his position. 

Jones is primed for a breakout season in 2017 and could be viewed as the Chiefs best defender by year’s end.


Bednardrick McKinney was a second round pick by the Texans in the 2015 draft and became a full-time starter at middle linebacker last season. 

He accumulated 79 tackles and racked up five sacks which lead all players at his position last year. His play was a key reason the Texans finished with the number one ranked defense in yards allowed.


Preston Smith was taken in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Washington Redskins. Smith had a stellar rookie season, as he recorded eight sacks. 

In 2016, his second season, he started all 16 games for the Redskins and was credited with 38 total tackles. 

Smith was voted one of the best players under 25 and will look to build off of that momentum going into 2017.


Gabe Jackson was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft by the Oakland Raiders. It is hard to gauge the value of an offensive lineman with stats, but Gabe is quickly becoming a key part of a Raiders team, looking to make a Super Bowl run. 

The Raiders showed how much they value him by giving him a five-year, $56 million contract extension. 

Look for Jackson to anchor the Raider’s offensive line in 2017 and protect franchise quarterback Derek Carr.

The other 20 Bulldogs in the NFL are as follows: Nelson Adams on the Denver Broncos, Denico Autry on the Oakland Raiders, Johnthan Banks on the Chicago Bears, Josh Boyd on the Indianapolis Colts, Fred Brown on the Indianapolis Colts, Richie Brown on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Brown on the Cincinnati Bengals, Taveze Calhoun on the New Orleans Saints, Johnathan Calvin on the Green Bay Packers, Winston Chapman on the Miami Dolphins, Blaine Clausell on the Carolina Panthers, Dillion Day on the Denver Broncos, Kaleb Eulls on the Los Angeles Chargers, A.J. Jefferson on the Los Angeles Rams, Kyle Love on the Carolina Panthers, Will Redmond on the San Francisco 49ers, Fred Ross on the Carolina Panthers, Justin Senior on the Seattle Seahawks, and Deontae Skinner on the New York Giants.

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Bulldogs look to impress in the NFL