Ole Miss grabs attention of NFL scouts at Pro Day

Posted on Mar 29 2016 - 5:45am by Cody Thomason

There was plenty of buzz surrounding to the Ole Miss football pro day on Monday morning. NFL Network, ESPN and the SEC Network were among the media outlets covering it, and numerous NFL scouts, coaches and general mangers were in attendance.

“It’s a great day for Ole Miss football,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “To have the coverage we had here, it’s another day that we can emphasize to America and to all the people out there that follow college football that our program is taking another step in our journey.”
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche were in the spotlight as NFL teams tried to get a closer look at the potential first round picks before the draft in April.

Many believe that Laremy Tunsil will go first overall in the draft to the Tennessee Titans, whose general manager and head coach were both in attendance on Monday. Freeze feels like Tunsil is the obvious choice.
“I don’t care who you have on your team, I don’t see how you can bypass Laremy Tunsil,” Freeze said. “For a big man, if an offensive lineman protecting your quarterback, that left tackle position is something you want to make sure you can secure then Laremy is that guy. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone that can bend or move like he does.”

Freeze wasn’t surprised by how highly NFL teams are regarding Tunsil.
“Honestly, I absolutely do at this point and thought that was a possibility when we recruited him,” Freeze said. “I remember telling some people this guy could be a top two or three pick just because of how good his feet are. He’s very deserving of it, in my opinion.”

The biggest concern that’s been voiced in regards to Laquon Treadwell’s draft stock has been his speed, and after Treadwell chose not to run at the combine, his speed received even more attention. Treadwell ran the 40-yard dash twice at the pro day, finishing in 4.63 and 4.65 seconds.
“I wanted to run better in the 40, but I’m proud of what I ran,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell felt that his success at the next level didn’t depend on his speed.
“I don’t have to run a 4.2 to win on a deep ball, I just play ball,” Treadwell said. “I work on techniques and try to beat you on different points, and attacking the ball, and making the play for the team.”

Freeze weighed in on the debate on how his speed will affect him at the next level.
“If you’re looking for just a guy that can run in a straight line fast, that’s not what he is. If you’re looking for a guy that can use his physical presence in his body to win in one-on-one situations and tight quarters and 50-50 balls, that’s him,” Freeze said.
Overall, Treadwell felt good about the day’s performance.

“The experience was great, being out there with my teammates one last time and seeing those guys compete,” Treadwell said. “For myself, I did well. I’m proud of myself. I got it over with, and I’m ready to look forward to the next step.”
As for Nkemdiche, he said most of the questions involving his draft stock were to do with off-the-field issues, not his play. Nkemdiche was charged with marijuana possession in December after an incident in a hotel in which he was staying.

“I’ve been honest, I’ve been straightforward with teams, and I’ve made it clear that that’s not who I am, that’s not anything they have to worry about with me because that’s not my character, that’s not my personality,” Nkemdiche said of the concerns about his character. “I’m a positive person, and I’m going to be an asset to the team and community wherever I end up at.”
There is also a question of whether or not Nkemdiche gave his full effort on the field, which both Nkemdiche and Freeze strongly opposed.
“The narrative out there that he might not always give effort or there might be some laziness to his game is totally inaccurate to what my experience has been with him over the three years,” Freeze said. “I want to be very clear: the guy’s very competitive and he gives great effort.”
“The word that he sometimes takes plays off, I have not experienced that at all,” Freeze continued. “He’s one of the hardest workers we have in the strength program and the practices. He’s very competitive. The thing (NFL teams) have to decide is how much do we think the off-the-field issue is a risk for us. Is it something that can be managed? For us he managed it very well for the most part of his tenure here. He’s a very intelligent young man that has a good heart and he knows what’s at stake. They’ve got to make the call on that, but I think he has the potential to make somebody look really, really smart.”

All three players will attend the NFL draft in Chicago on April 28.

– Cody Thomason