When the Ole Miss Rebels line up against the Bama Crimson Tide this weekend, the SEC West Title will undoubtedly be on the line. If Ole Miss wins, it will be because of two playmakers on both the offense and defense.
DT ROBERT NKEMDICHE
If you had to pick one word to describe Ole Miss Junior defensive tackle from Loganville, GA, beast comes to mind.
Nkemdiche, the consensus #1 high school prospect in the country, was the crown jewel of the Rebels highly touted 2013 recruiting class. The size, speed and sheer athleticism drew comparisons to that year’s first NFL draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Recruited as a defensive end he quickly transitioned to a defensive tackle after arriving in Oxford. Prior to the 2014 season it was rumored he was dealing with an ongoing cramp issue in camp, his body fat percentage was so low it was hard to stay properly hydrated. Needless to say that is not a problem many defensive tackles or 300 pound men experience. Just looking at Nkemdiche, he has tree trunks for legs, a six pack and runs a sub 4.8 40 yard dash, it is very apparent that this is not your typical defensive lineman.
The knock on Nkemdiche is his lack of numbers. While starting every game of the 2014 Rebel season he totaled 35 tackles, 4 TFL and 2 sacks. Often times double even triple teamed Nkemdiche still dominated the line of scrimmage and commanded attention. This season is all about refining his game and finishing. Can Nkemdiche move from just occupying multiple blocks and anchoring the line of scrimmage to shedding blocks and finishing with a tackle? His size, raw ability and upside has NFL teams keeping a close eye on this rising star.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Early to mid-1st Round
WR LAQUON TREADWELL
It has been a long offseason for the junior wide receiver from Crete, IL. After suffering a gruesome season ending injury last year Treadwell has bounced back and is anticipating a strong junior campaign.
When recruited Treadwell was the #1 rated wide receiver in the nation and joined the highly touted 2013 Rebel recruiting class. The 6 2’’ 210lb WR is a nightmare for defenses. He is fast enough to blow by any defense dumb enough to cover him 1 on 1 and physical enough to make you look silly when running in open space. While he has great hands his biggest ability to tear up a defense is his ability to run after the catch. You are going to need more than an arm tackle to wrap up this monster.
His play making abilities do not stop at catching and running, as Treadwell is one of the better blocking receivers in the game, an ability which NFL scouts covet. When you see a long run it’s not uncommon to see Treadwell hustling 25+ yards down the field to block. He was responsible for 608 yards and 5 TDs his freshman season (2013) and with a short season due to injury he contributed 632 receiving yards and 5 TDS in last years season. Prior to the 2015 season it was reported he has lost about 15lbs and is faster then ever. With an extremely talented and deep wide receiver group in Oxford he is the real deal and is ready to contribute to a potentially championship caliber team. The knock on Treadwell is how is that surgically repaired ankle going to hold up? After 2 games he seems to be back to 100% and is causing opposing defense problems. Being the best receiver on the field defenses will be scheming with him in mind and will continue to be doubled teamed more time than not.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Late 1st to early 2nd Round
Tommy Brooker is an Ole Miss alum and avid SEC enthusiast. Keep an eye on more SEC insight from Tommy as the college football season progresses. If you love America, follow him on Twitter @tommybrooker. Oh - and he is also an accomplished television actor: