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Mississippi standouts earn recognition...

Mississippi standouts earn recognition on NFL’s Top 100 Players List for 2023

By: James Bryan Harrell - August 11, 2023

FILE - Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones smiles during during the second half of the team's NFL AFC championship playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jan. 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo. Jones, who is entering the final year of his contract with the Chiefs, was absent from the start of Super Bowl champions' mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday, June 13. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann, File)

Six Magnolia State products find their name on the NFL’s preseason list for the best 100 players currently in the league.

On Monday, 1 through 10 of the NFL’s Top 100 List for 2023 were revealed, completing the preseason players’ list. This list, started in 2011, has become a preseason ritual for the NFL, where players are polled in the offseason and then vote on their peers based on last season’s performance.

Among the obvious selections, like Super Bowl winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes, are six athletes from Mississippi who cracked the list for the 2023 season. 

Unsurprisingly, when you break the list down by universities and their collegiate conferences, the SEC dominated the representation. In fact, Alabama alone had a whopping twelve former players selected on the list. Behind the Crimson Tide were Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma.

Ranked fifth for most selections by school, Mississippi State had four players selected, while Ole Miss had two. Georgia and Alabama are often more highly touted as NFL talent producing programs, and rightfully so, but Mississippi’s schools have been hidden gems at producing high level talent.

Let’s take a look at the Mississippi players voted into the NFL’s Top 100 ahead of the 2023 season.

10. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs, Mississippi State

Chris Jones, who spent three years terrorizing opposing backfields in Starkville, has become a mainstay on this list. Last season, Jones tied his career high with 15.5 sacks, including two in the playoffs, enroute to winning his second Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs. In his seven-year career, Jones has tallied 65 sacks, earning him Pro-Bowl honors the past four seasons. Jones will look to build off of a stellar 2022 season in which he was named best interior defender in the league by PFF. 

22. A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles, Ole Miss

Following a stellar college career in Oxford and three strong seasons with the Titans, A.J. Brown was traded last offseason to Philadelphia. It didn’t take long for Brown to establish himself as the Eagles top option and make a case for himself as one of the best receivers in the league. Last year, Brown exploded for 1,496 receiving yards and 11 TDs, helping lead the Eagles to an NFC Championship. Brown signed a four-year extension with the team this offseason. Fans will be hoping to see him build off of last year’s dominant performance.

56. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys, Mississippi State

Dak Prescott will forever be remembered in Starkville for his magical career that saw Mississippi State rise to a #1 overall ranking. In the NFL, Prescott’s career has been more up and down since he was drafted by Dallas. Prescott fell twelve spots from his 2022 ranking, mostly due to his league leading 15 interceptions last season. Despite this high turnover rate, Prescott and the Cowboys offense were mostly successful throughout the season, ranking fourth in points scored and eleventh in yards. Prescott also put together a stellar performance to get the Cowboys a postseason win, scoring five total TDs to beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. 

58. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans, Mississippi State

Jeffery Simmons was the Titans first round pick in 2019 after a strong career at Mississippi State. He has gone on to wreak havoc on NFL backfields just as he did in the SEC when he was in Starkville. After breaking out in 2021, Simmons had another strong year last season, with 7.5 sacks, one shy of his career mark and seventh among defensive tackles. This strong production along with Simmons’ run stuffing abilities led to him signing the third highest contract at his position this offseason. The Titans hope he can keep it rolling in 2023. 

65. Darius Slay, CB, Philadelphia Eagles, Mississippi State

Another former Bulldog defensive standout, Darius “Big Play” Slay cemented himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the league with another stellar year in 2023. In his third season with the Eagles, Slay tallied three interceptions and fourteen passes defended, earning his second straight and fifth overall Pro Bowl selection. Slay’s cover ability boosted an Eagles defense to an almost record-breaking sack mark, helping earn them an NFC Championship. 

85. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Houston Texans, Ole Miss

Tunsil, who was a highly touted prospect after a stellar career at Ole Miss, has had an up and down NFL career but is starting to put it all together. Last season, he started every regular season game for the Texans, marking the first time he has done so in his career. This, along with his high level of play, earned him his third Pro Bowl honor. Houston signed the tackle to a hefty contract this offseason, proving that his veteran leadership will be needed by the organization and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.  

About the Author(s)
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James Bryan Harrell

James Bryan Harrell writes about Mississippi sports and culture for Magnolia Tribune. JB is a native of West Point and is a senior at Vanderbilt University, where he is majoring in communications.