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Ole Miss NFL Draft Primer: A look at Rebels who hope to hear their name called in the 2023 Draft

Ole Miss NFL Draft Primer: A look at Rebels who hope to hear their name called in the 2023 Draft

OXFORD, Miss. — The 2023 NFL Draft is finally upon us, and a number of Ole Miss players from this past season’s roster are eligible for the upcoming draft that starts today.

Let’s take a look at some of the Rebels who are eligible, including: Jonathan Mingo, Zach Evans, Malik Heath, Nick Broeker, Tavius Robinson, AJ Finley, Troy Brown, and Otis Reese. 

WR Jonathan Mingo

Mingo showed his ability as a Rebel to play a very physical brand of football. The 6-foot-2, 225 pound wideout uses his size and strength both at the line of scrimmage when playing through a defensive back and after the catch, making him a difficult player to tackle for defensive backs.

He has speed to go along with his size, being clocked at 4.46 in the 40-yard dash.

Mingo started all 13 games in 2022, tying for the team lead with five receiving touchdowns (51-861-16.9). He set a school record with 247 receiving yards against Vanderbilt.

The skinny on Mingo from NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of

“Big, strong slot receiver possessing the mental and physical toughness to outperform his speed limitations…it’s clear he’s put time and effort into his craft. He runs crisp, well-paced routes and ramps up his focus when it’s time to go get the football. A lack of separation burst and long speed could make for more contested catches, but he has the body type and willingness for that work. Mingo can get tough yards after the catch and is an above-average blocker. He has the skill level and demeanor to become a starting slot receiver for teams using 11 personnel (three WRs) as their base offense.”

Mingo’s Strengths

  • Imposing size with muscular build.
  • Easy to recognize he spends time on his craft.
  • Adequate footwork to slip press.
  • Finds his top speed quickly and continues to play at that speed.
  • Routes are run with attention to detail.
  • Works back aggressively to the throw.
  • Stellar ball tracking and catch focus downfield.
  • Makes use of his size and strength as run blocker.

Zierlein projects Mingo to go in Rounds 2-3, although there are some analysts who see him sneaking into the latter part of the first round.

RB Zach Evans

Evans carried the ball 144 times for 936 yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Rebels, while sharing time with freshman sensation Quinshon Judkins.

Evans averaged 6.9 yards per carry over the span of two years at TCU and one year at Ole Miss. He has the ability to run both inside and outside of the offensive tackles.

Many have raved about his balance at the point of contact which can turn defenders into would-be tacklers. His unofficial 4.45 40-yard dash time at pro day should serve him well at the next level when he finds a crease in defenses. Many of the mock drafts have him going in the 2-5 rounds.

The skinny on Zach Evans according to analyst Lance Zierlein:

“Evans’ career average of 6.9 yards per carry demonstrates his home run ability, but nagging injuries have limited him in the last two seasons…He has lead back size and impresses with his willingness to fight through contact for additional yardage on most runs….the talent/traits should put him in contention for early carries as a very good complementary back with future RB1 upside.”

Evans’ Strengths

  • Body composition of an NFL lead back.
  • Burst is sudden and explosive.
  • Can bounce runs wide and beat pursuit to the corner.
  • Quick to process and elude versus penetration.
  • Slashes through leg tackles with contact balance.
  • Top-end speed for long house calls.
  • Consistently adds yards to the carry with power.

Zierlein has Evans projected as a fourth-round pick.

WR Malik Heath

Malik Health has also impressed many of this years analysts. He led the Rebels last year in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdown, tallying 60 receptions for 971 yards and 5 TDs.

Heath notched 8 games in 2022 with 70 receiving yards or more and recorded 100+ yards receiving in five games (Texas Tech, Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, and Kentucky). He gets open, establishes good position and possesses great hands.

The skinny on Malik Heath from analyst Lance Zierlein:

“The size and length are appealing, as is the potential to improve his contested-catch success rate…The ball skills show up on tape, but he must become a consistent ball-winner and play to his size. Heath has Day 3 draft potential.”


  • Saw a steep jump in reception production in 2022.
  • Nice stair-step technique to back coverage off.
  • Locates deep throws and alters speed and positioning to grab the ball.
  • Possesses the size and length to rise above cornerbacks on jump balls.
  • Does well focusing on dropping his feet near the sideline on catches.
  • Has a chance to become a reliable winner on back-shoulder throws.

OL Nick Broeker

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman totaled 48 games with the Rebels, never missing a game after his arrival as a freshman. Broeker became a starter his sophomore year and spent his first three years at Ole Miss playing at left tackle.

He told reporters at SEC Media Days last year he had some critiques from NFL scouts that his arms might be too short for him to play left tackle at the professional level — so he simply moved to left guard and performed just as well.

At the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Broeker moved over and played right guard, again proving his versatility.

The skinny on Nick Broeker from analyst Lance Zierlein:

“Guard prospect with average size who has the ability to punch above his weight as a run blocker. Broeker is limited as a move blocker but thrives when firing out and running his feet through contact to open lanes. He has very strong hands and consistently works to finish his blocks…above-average play strength and has the talent to become a starting guard in a downhill run scheme.”

Broeker’s Strengths

  • Treats opponents like a blocking sled once he’s centered up.
  • Sustains attack with vice grips for hands.
  • All-day worker and block finisher.
  • Efficient with hands and hips to swivel and seal cross-face block.
  • Takes appropriate angles up to second-level targets.
  • Impressive recovery quickness against sudden movement at the line.
  • Can sink a sudden anchor with flexible lower half.
  • Looks for work when uncovered in protection.

Zierlein projects Broeker as a Round 5 selection.

DL Tavius Robinson

Ole Miss signed the Canadian transfer from Guelph in 2020, and he responded with five starts in 10 appearances (18 tackles, 1.5 for loss). Robinson was productive (28 tackles, 4.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks) coming off the bench in 11 games in 2021, but his career really took off in 2022, as he tied for second in the FBS with five forced fumbles and posted 44 tackles, eight for loss with seven sacks in 13 starts.

He’s got good length and size and in 2022 showed he can be an effective pass rusher.

The skinny on Tavius Robinson from analyst Lance Zierlein:

“Ascending, even-front defensive end prospect with outstanding traits and projectable upside. Robinson plays with good aggression and heavy hands as both a run defender and pass rusher. He has the agility and foot quickness to beat blockers whether chasing the run or rushing the passer. Robinson attacks the pocket with a game plan and a variety of moves at his disposal. He needs to grow into his frame to improve against the run, but Robinson should become a rotational defender and has future-starter potential.”

Zierlein compares Tavius to Rasheem Green and projects him to be selected in Rounds 4-5.


  • Long, rangy frame with room for more muscle mass.
  • Disruptive lateral quickness and agility.
  • Bends to keep pad level steady at point of attack.
  • Uses a variety of rush techniques in his approach.
  • Loose upper body helps to swivel around the block.
  • Able to glide and cover ground quickly on twists.
  • Strong head of steam generated for speed-to-power rush.

Safety A.J. Finley

Finley has been a stalwart on the Ole Miss defense. He’s also been a model of consistency. He played multiple positions throughout his career at Ole Miss early but settled into the safety position.

At safety, Finley proved to be a productive defender, finishing his career with more than 200 tackles and eight interceptions. His ability to make plays in the run game and in pass coverage comes from his range and instincts.

He started all 13 games at safety for Ole Miss in 2022, finishing first on the team with 46 solo tackles and ranking fourth on the team with 76 total tackles. In his junior season in 2021, Finley appeared in all 13 games with 12 starts at safety. That year, he finished third on the team with 90 total tackles and led the team with three interceptions.

In his sophomore season with the COVID-shortened schedule, Finley participated in all 10 games with nine starts at free safety. He finished fourth on the team with 62 total tackles, including two tackles for loss and led the team with three interceptions. As a true freshman in 2019, Finley saw action in all 12 games as backup defensive back and on special teams. He recorded 16 tackles that season with two tackles for loss.

The skinny on AJ Finley from NFL analyst Keith Sanchez:

“As a run defender, Finley does a good job of triggering from depth at his FS position and closing to ball carriers. Finley does a good job breaking down and approaching defenders with a good angle for him to make the tackle. As a tackler, Finley uses his length to wrap and drag defenders to the ground. In pass coverage, Finley shows to be a high-IQ player with an in-depth understanding of route combinations. In Finley’s career, he has made game-changing plays and has an interception return for a touchdown. Finley does a good job jumping routes to make plays on the ball. In man-to-man coverage, he’s shown that he can cover receivers in the slot, mirroring them on in-breakers and carrying players vertically down the field. Finley’s arm length helps him make plays on the ball…”


  • Has good positional and scheme versatility to play multiple roles for a defense.
  • Can work in the slot and boundary, but did look best as a safety.
  • Has great range and instincts in coverage.
  • Triggers quickly when he diagnoses a run.
  • Takes good angles to meet with the ball.
  • More than a willing tackler and unafraid to be physical.
  • Possess a high football IQ, which shows consistently with his feel in coverage.
  • He has solid length and uses it well as a tackler and in coverage.
  • Timed aggression and calculated risk taker.
  • Does well carrying receivers down the field on vertical shots.
  • Great ball skills and has the production to match.

LB Troy Brown

Brown originally attended Central Michigan, spending four years with the Chippewas. While there, he totaled 133 snaps as a 203-pound freshman, making sixteen tackles and intercepting a pass, then stepped into the starting lineup and posted 91-16.5-1.0 with three picks the next year. He then recorded 42-8.0-4.5 in the shortened 2020 season, then bulked to 218 and had 66-7.0-1.0 with a pick in his final season at the school.

Brown transferred to Ole Miss for his final season of eligibility. As a fifth-year senior for the Rebels in 2022, he played 12 games and took part in 543 snaps for the Rebels. He recorded 73 tackles, 20 assists, and 44 stops.

As a pass rusher, he tallied 11 total pressures, which included nine QB hurries and two QB hits.

The skinny on Troy Brown from NFL analyst Matthew Jones of

“Productive, experienced four-year starter with experience on the weakside, middle, and inside…patiently reads keys and doesn’t take many false steps. Shows the technique and quickness to work through congestion between the tackles. Gets good extension to play off of blocks, with adequate functional strength; tends to work around if possible but is willing to step into the hole and take on a block if needed. Good athlete who’s capable of pursuing out toward the sidelines. Looks comfortable dropping into zone coverage with clean footwork/balance; gets enough depth to keep the play in front of him. Quickly sniffs out screens and swing passes developing.”


  • One of the most experienced and polished players at the position in this year’s class.
  • Brown is a true tackler with good speed sideline to sideline.
  • Has the ability to read keys and flow toward the ball in the run game.
  • Has sound technique when working in zone coverage on passing downs.

Jones projects Brown to be a Round 4-5 selection.

DB Otis Reese

Before transferring to Ole Miss in 2020, Otis played for the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2018 as a freshman, he saw action in 10 games and played a total of 120 snaps at safety for Georgia. He recorded 11 tackles, 2 assists, while adding 4 stops. As a sophomore in 2019 he played in 6 games and logged 42 snaps for UGA.

After season’s end in 2019, Reese transferred to Ole Miss where as a junior for the Rebels in 2020 Reese played in 3 games and took part in 268 snaps for the Rebels. He chalked up 17 tackles, 3 assists, and added 9 stops. In the secondary, Reese forced one pass breakup, one interception, and gave up an outstanding QB rating when targeted of 52.8.

In 2021 as a senior, Reese saw action in 13 games while playing 945 snaps. He logged 63 tackles, 22 assists, and made 24 stops. He also chalked up 10 total pressures, and 2 sacks on the season

In 2022 as a fifth year senior, Reese saw action in 12 games while playing 683 snaps. He logged 56 tackles, 24 assists, and made 25 stops. In coverage Reese had 3 pass breakups, one interception, and surrendered a QB rating when targeted of 99.4. He also chalked up 7 total pressures and 2 sacks on the season.

The skinny on Otis Reese from NFL analyst Keith Sanchez:

“Otis Reese shows well as a versatile defender who is a reliable run defender. When aligned at depth, Reese does a good job of closing to the ball carrier and making tackles. Reese is a physical defensive back who, when the opportunity presents itself, will deliver the big hit. Even though Reese would be considered a smaller linebacker, he actually plays well in traffic close to the line of scrimmage. Reese is an instinctive player that has the natural ability to evade blockers and make the tackle. Overall, Reese is a versatile defender that shows to be an effective run defender from multiple alignments.”

Otis’ Strengths

  • Possesses a versatile skill set to play in various zone and man coverage – good size match up against bigger targets.
  • Top-end speed is good and is capable of turning and running in press coverage. Reese also shows good instincts when sitting back in zone and looking into the backfield.
  • Savvy using his hands to get to the ball without drawing flags. Willing tackler and high-effort leader.
  • Shows good awareness, following the eyes of the quarterback and breaking on the ball with excellent quickness and aggression.
  • Plays with the natural balance and ultra-quick feet to mirror underneath, and he’s tremendous at reading routes and reading quarterbacks.
  • He’s excellent in run support, a physical hitter who could also get a look at safety

Draft Schedule Info

The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off with the first round Thursday, April 27 at 7:00 PM CT, followed by Rounds 2-3 Friday, April 28 at 6:00 PM CT and Rounds 4-7 Saturday, April 29 at 11:00 AM CT from Kansas City with coverage on NFL Network, NFL+ and the NFL Channel.

Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss alum with a degree in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.

About The Author

Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss alum with a degree in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.

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