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Rebels in the NFL: Checking in on former Ole Miss players

With week one of the college football regular season behind us, the National Football League is set to begin this week.

At the time of writing, there are 28 former Ole Miss Rebels on NFL rosters after the weekend cuts to the final, 53-man roster.

In 2019 alone, six Rebels got drafted, tied for 7th-most in college football. Here’s where some of the notable former Ole Miss players stand in the NFL:

The 2018 NWO Trio (A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, DK Metcalf)

A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf were both second round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. DaMarkus Lodge went undrafted and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but did not make the team. Brown had some minor injuries during training camp, but seems to be in line to start in the slot, or at least play a good bit of real snaps for the Tennessee Titans from the start of week one. DK Metcalf suffered a minor knee injury in training camp that required surgery. The Seattle Seahawks aren’t ruling out Metcalf playing in week one, with head coach Pete Carrol saying “let’s just wait and see” on his young receiver’s status.

Evan Engram – TE, New York Giants

Looking at the Giants depth chart, Engram is legitimately the Giants’ best pass catching option. Regardless of who’s throwing Engram the ball –and we’ll get to that in a little bit – he’s going to have a big year catching the football. If you haven’t drafted already, target Engram in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Chad Kelly – QB, Indianapolis Colts

Kelly likely would have been on the roster bubble two weeks ago. When Andrew Luck retired, it seemed like he would be in line for the Colts backup job. But the team went out and signed a veteran to do that over the weekend, giving Brian Hoyer $9-million to backup Jacoby Brissett. Ole Miss fans on Twitter love to pontificate about the bad boy’s odds at starting for the Colts, but that’s just not happening anytime soon. Even before Luck’s retirement, Jacoby Brissett was one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Now, he’s third on the depth chart and serving a suspension to open the season.

Dawson Knox – TE, Buffalo Bills

If Knox doesn’t start for the Bills week one, he’s in for some playing time early. Tight ends are a position that traditionally develops slower than others in the NFL, and Knox is even further behind the eight ball due to his limited work at Ole Miss. Yet the Bills saw enough from him in his limited work in college to use a third round pick on him in 2019. There’s not a lot of talent ahead of him on the depth chart, so he should see some work as a rookie.

Greg Little – OT, Carolina Panthers

To start the season, the Panthers’ second round pick in 2019 is going to be the Carolina backup swing tackle. He won’t be starting, but it seems like Little will be on the field in a handful of heavy packages and is the backup and both tackle positions. He’s flashed in the preseason, but still needs some work.

Eli Manning – QB, New York Giants

Well, the Giants drafted a top-10 quarterback in 2019. Daniel Jones seems to be the future in New York, the question just stands, how long does Eli have? There’s a decent chance, with the organization’s commitment to Manning, that he’ll be the guy in all of 2019. That said, it’s simply been a few years since Eli Manning has been even average. The 38-year-old is well past his prime, and if the Giants struggle, it will likely be Daniel Jones starting by the end of the season.

Donte Moncrief – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers gave Moncrief a two year, $9 million contract this offseason, with a team out after 2019. He was signed to provide depth at the position, but as camp nears its close, he seems to be a Pittsburgh starter. The Steelers spent a second-round pick in 2018 on James Washington to be the number two receiver with Antonio Brown gone, but he has, so far, all but impressed. In the first three weeks of preseason, Moncrief has worked with the Steelers first team 64 percent of the time, vs. 7 percent for Washington. Moncrief will see the field a ton in Pittsburgh this year.

Robert Nkemdiche – DT, Miami Dolphins

The number one overall recruit out of high school and 2016 first round pick might not even see four seasons in the NFL. The Cardinals cut the former first-round pick after he showed up in terrible shape and failed a physical. Miami took a shot on Nkemdiche, signing him a few weeks back. A week ago, it was reported that he couldn’t even complete one run across the football field. He’s opening the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Jordan Ta’amu – QB, Free Agent

After working out in the summer with the Raiders, Jordan Ta’amu signed a preseason deal with the Houston Texans. Seemingly fourth on the depth chart behind Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron and Joe Webb, Ta’amu didn’t make the 53-man roster cut nor was he signed to the team’s practice squad. He’s reportedly trying out for the Jaguars practice squad.

Laquon Treadwell – WR, Free Agent

A first round pick out of Ole Miss in 2016, Treadwell’s been a massive disappointment in Minnesota. In three seasons as a Viking, he’s totaled just 517 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings tried to trade Treadwell but found no interested parties. Instead, he was cut. As of the time of writing, he went unclaimed on the waiver wire and is yet to be signed.

Laremy Tunsil – LT, Houston Texans**

Tunsil had been involved in trade discussions for a while, more due to Miami’s standing as an NFL team rather than his play.  On Saturday, he was traded from Miami to the Houston Texans as part of a deal that sent two first round picks and a second round pick to the Dolphins. Now, Tunsil finds himself on a team with a goal of competing right away.

Also on NFL Rosters before final 53-man roster cuts:

Floyd Allen – WR, Houston Texans
Brandon Bolden – RB/ST, New England Patriots
Fadol Brown – DE, Green Bay Packers
Cody Core – WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Marquis Haynes – DE, Carolina Panthers
Mike Hilton – CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Lavon Hooks – DE, Pittsburgh Steelers
John Jerry – G, Cincinnati Bengals
D.J. Jones – DT, San Francisco 49ers
Bobby Massie – OT, Chicago Bears
C.J. Moore – S, Detroit Lions
A.J. Moore – S, Houston Texans
Javon Patterson, C, Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Sowell – TE, Chicago Bears
Breeland Speaks – LB, Kansas City Chiefs
Rod Taylor – G, Cincinnati Bengals
Ken Webster – CB, Miami Dolphins
Jordan Wilkins – RB, Indianapolis Colts