It’s no secret that Mississippi State produces plenty of NFL stars.
From quarterbacks to defensive linemen, maroon runs deep on many NFL rosters. This year, offensive lineman Charles Cross was taken ninth overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Draft, and cornerback Martin Emerson was selected by the Cleveland Browns early in the third round.
With all of the MSU talent in the league, more Bulldogs than ever are taking the field as starters. In fact, Mississippi State has had more NFL starts per player over the last five years than any other SEC school– something that the program should be very proud of.
How is this possible? MSU never seems to have as many draftees as bigger SEC programs that send dozens of players to the NFL like there’s no tomorrow. At the start of the 2021 NFL season, the Bulldogs were ranked 23rd in the total number of players active on NFL rosters with 19. Alabama led all FBS schools with 53 active players, and LSU, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Auburn all ranked ahead of MSU.
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Simply put, quality matters much more than quantity. For the nearly five dozen professional athletes that Alabama has on active rosters, the majority of them have not seen consistent playing time over the last five years. Mississippi State might not put as many out there … but think about the stars that to come out of Starkville.
Look at Dak Prescott. He was a fourth-round draft pick who was never expected to rise to such a high level as quickly as he did. Now, he’s heading into his seventh year in the NFL and has been the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys since his rookie season. Prescott has broken countless records for the franchise and is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Mississippi State has also produced a strong group of defensive tackles that have played professionally over the last few years. Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs, Jeffrey Simmons of the Tennessee Titans and Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles have all made significant contributions to the NFL over the past few years. Jones was even selected to the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl, although he could not play due to an injury late in the season.
The list could go on and on. What about Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, Oakland safety Johnathan Abram or offensive guards Gabe Jackson and Elgton Jenkins? They– along with many others– have all helped shape professional football into what it has been over the past few years. Without Mississippi State leading the way, the NFL landscape would look quite different today.