by Joseph W. Gex II

The State of Mississippi has been good to the NFL and the NFL has been good to Mississippi, in return. And, the 2020 NFL Draft was not any different. There were 12 draft picks with connections to the state of Mississippi on either the high school or collegiate level.

The first player selected with connections to the state was RB Cam Akers of Florida State.  The Clinton High School product was Mr. Football in the state 2016 for Class 6A and was the 52nd overall selection going in the second round to the Los Angeles Rams who were looking to fill the loss if Todd Gurley.

The second connection to the state to go off the board was DT Raekwon Davis of Meridian High School who went 56th overall to the Miami Dolphins. The Alabama product looks to fill a need up front as a run stopper.

Starkville High School’s Willie Gay, Jr., was the third selection off the board from Mississippi going 63rd overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Mississippi State linebacker will suit up alongside former Bulldogs star Chris Jones.

Damien Lewis of Canton High School went 69th overall to the Seattle Seahawks. The former Northwest CC and LSU offensive lineman looks to help solidify a protective wall for Russell Wilson.

Defensive back Cameron Dantzler of Mississippi State was selected 89th overall in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings and looks to add athleticism to the Vikings’ backfield.

Davion Taylor of South Pike High School was taken with the 103rd pick in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Coahoma CC and Colorado star linebacker wowed scouts and ran a 4.49 in the 40 at the combine.

Tyre Phillips of Grenada High School was taken 106th overall in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens. The East Mississippi CC and Mississippi State offensive lineman can play either guard or tackle at the next level.

Saahdiq Charles of Madison-Ridgeland Academy was selected by the Washington Redskins with the 108th overall pick in the fourth round.

The LSU offensive lineman is looking to prove he is serious about football and will get the chance under Ron Rivera.

Quez Watkins of Southern Mississippi from Petal High School was taken in the sixth round with the 200th overall selection by the Philadelphia Eagles.  The fastest WR in Conference USA ran a blazing 4.35 in the 40 at the combine.

Thakarius Keyes of Laurel High School was taken in the seventh round with the 237th overall selection by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Tulane Defensive Back goes by the name BoPete, a nickname given to him by his grandmother, and grew up a Chiefs fan.

Mississippi State QB Tommy Stevens was selected in the seventh round with the 240th overall pick by the New Orleans Saints.  Stevens is being compared to a Taysom Hill-type player and no better place than the Saints to develop in that mold.

The final draft selection with Mississippi ties was Brian Cole II who was taken in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings.

The former East Mississippi CC and Mississippi State safety is headed back to cold country as he is a native of Michigan.

The 2020 Draft marked the first time since 2013 that Ole Miss had no draft selections but it was also the fourth time since the NFL went to seven rounds in 1994.  The Rebels did have six players sign undrafted free agent contracts including DT Benito Jones (Dolphins), DB Jalen Julius (Chiefs), DB Myles Hartfield (Panthers), DE Josiah Coatney (Steelers), RB Scottie Phillips (Texans), and DL Austrian Robinson (Panthers).

Mississippi State had 10 players sign free agent contracts after not being drafted including OL Darryl Williams (Chiefs), DE Chauncey Rivers (Ravens), WR Stephen Guidry (Cowboys), WR Isaiah Zuber (Patriots), LB Leo Lewis (Steelers), OL Tommy Champion (Seahawks), DT Lee Autry (Bears), S Jaquarious Landrews (Giants), TE Farrod Green (Colts), and P Corliss Waitman (Steelers).

The Golden Eagles had two players sign free agent contracts including OL Drake Dorbeck (Browns) and WR DeMichael Harris (Colts).

(Photo by USA Today)