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.