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Ask 5: Who is best prospect in state of Mississippi?

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Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press
Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney has rare size for a college linebacker.


The eyes of college football will be focused on the state of Mississippi this weekend, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State playing host to teams ranked in the top six of the latest CFB 24/7 power rankings.

This is one of the most talented and athletic Ole Miss teams in years. Most of the Rebels' talent is young -- players to consider down the road in terms of the NFL draft. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (6-foot-5, 305 pounds), defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (6-4, 280) and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (6-2, 229) are all intriguing players to watch, and all are sophomores with plenty of time to develop.

Mississippi State, meanwhile, features an offense led by junior quarterback Dak Prescott (6-2, 230) and a defense anchored by junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney (6-5, 249).

I reached out to five NFL personnel executives to find out which player they considered the top NFL prospect in the state of Mississippi. Here's what they had to say:

Executive No. 1: McKinney

"Ole Miss is loaded with young talent, but Benardrick is the top prospect right now."

Executive No. 2: Tunsil

"I was a little underwhelmed by the Mississippi State linebacker (McKinney). The best two players in the state are Tunsil and Treadwell, but neither guy is draft-eligible. They are both freaks. I'd give the nod to the tackle."

Executive No. 3: Tunsil

"It's a toss-up between Benardrick McKinney and Laremy Tunsil. I would give the nod to Tunsil. He's got great feet, and he's only going to get better.

Executive No. 4: McKinney

"McKinney is the best guy. He's a good athlete with instincts and the physical tools to play in any scheme."

Executive No. 5: McKinney

"Benardrick McKinney is easy to evaluate. He's big, fast and explosive. He's the best player in the state."

Verdict: McKinney collected three votes, while Tunsil received two votes.

Conclusion: I think everybody I've talked to is excited about the young talent at Ole Miss. However, in terms of the draft-eligible NFL prospects, McKinney is the highest-rated player between the two schools.

In an era when college linebackers are getting smaller in order to play against spread offenses, it's rare to find a player with McKinney's size. With college linebackers shrinking, McKinney has rare size. He's bigger than most NFL linebackers. He has Brian Urlacher-type size.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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