Scouting the SEC: Mississippi

The Rebels now begin the post Eli Manning-era, hoping to remain competitive and continue to make bowl appearances. And while the team offers several solid NFL-prospects on the offensive line and at receiver they may have difficulty getting a post-season invite come December.

Mississippi possesses both experience and talent upfront on offense and offer a pair of top guard prospects.  Marcus Johnson has been a solid player on the Rebel line the past three seasons.  Big, strong and dominant, Johnson displays the ability to engulf defenders at the line of scrimmage and easily turns them off the ball.  Anchoring in pass protection, he stays square and is explosive at the point of attack, sealing defenders from the action with his big body.  More of an arm wrestler than a mauler, Johnson is not a leverage blocker or effective on the move.  A solid pick in a late part of the draft's first day, Johnson would be very effective for a power running game or in a zone blocking system.  Teammate Doug Buckles is another small area blocker that dominates opponents at the point of attack.  Quick off the snap, Buckles plays with good forward lean and gets movement from run blocks, driving defenders off the line of scrimmage.  Quick setting in pass protection, he stays square and anchors at the point. And though he displays top overall body strength, Buckles has difficulty playing in space or blocking on the second level.  Like Johnson he's be best in a zone blocking system for a power running game.  Junior Tre' Stallings is a versatile blocker used on both sides of the line.  A solid athlete, he is both quick and explosive off the snap, keeps his feet moving throughout the action and fights hard until the whistle blows.  A leverage blocker, Stallings bends his knees and displays the ability to remove linebackers on the second level.  Not a big bodied lineman, Stallings is a solid guard prospect for the future and one that must physically mature, improving his overall body strength.  Chris Spencer has been used at several spots on the offensive line and now moves into the starting position at center.  Another solid athlete with an explosive style of play, Spencer is effective pulling across the line of scrimmage and jolts opponents at the point of attack.  Possessing both size and growth potential, he is a junior lineman to keep an eye on.  Receiver Mike Espy is another underclassman to watch.  A fluid pass catcher, he displays top eye/hand coordination and adjusts well to the errant throw.  Strong running after the reception, Espy picks up yardage running with the ball and also impacts the game as a return specialist.  Though he has a tendency to leave his feet in order to make the reception Espy offers a good amount of upside potential and could be a solid first day pick in the future.  Senior wide out Bill Flowers, starting tight end Eric Rice and back-up underclassman Lawrence Lilly are all future pro prospects.

On defense safety Eric Oliver is an intelligent defensive back that quickly reads the quarterback and works to get involved in the action.  Lacking the top playing speed, Oliver has just marginal skills in pass coverage yet possesses the size to be considered at strong safety in the NFL.

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