STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen has placed his share of players in the NFL.
A total of 13 players have been selected in the NFL Draft during Mullen’s five previous seasons at Mississippi State. By comparison, his predecessor Sylvester Croom saw only four players drafted during his five-year stint in Starkville.
MSU had 18 players active in the NFL this past season – 17 of which played for Mullen.
However, the Bulldogs’ 2015 draft class may be Mullen’s best yet.
• On TV: NFL Draft, 7 p.m., ESPN
Six players are likely to have their names called, according to CBSSports.com as the draft gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. and continues through Saturday.
Preston Smith and Benardrick McKinney will potentially be the first two MSU players to come off the board.
Smith has seen his stock soar after impressive showings at both the NFL Combine and MSU’s on-campus pro day. The 6-foot-5, 271-pounder is rated the No. 6 defensive end and could slide into the late first round tonight.
“I have just been embracing the process,” Smith said. “I have met a lot of great teams and coaches along the way. They have shown me some great things to work on. Playing at Mississippi State and the SEC has prepared me to play in the league.”
McKinney left school a year early after leading the Bulldogs in tackles the last two seasons.
The Tunica native is one of only 26 players invited to attend the draft in Chicago and is rated the No. 2 inside linebacker. He is a projected second round selection.
Running back Josh Robinson also chose to forgo his final year of eligibility and is expected to be taken in the fifth round.
Defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls is projected as a sixth or seventh round selection and safety Justin Cox and linebacker Matthew Wells are potential seventh-round picks.
Offensive linemen Blaine Clausell, Ben Beckwith and Dillon Day, tight end Malcolm Johnson, defensive backs Jamerson Love and Jay Hughes, running back Nick Griffin and wide receivers Jameon Lewis and Robert Johnson could also be late round selections or free agent camp invites.
Mullen’s most productive class to date came in 2010 when the Bulldogs saw four players picked, including first rounder Derek Sherrod. Fletcher Cox was also a first-round pick the following year.
Gabe Jackson was the only State player selected last year, by the Oakland Raiders in the third round.
Mississippi State has had multiple first-round selections twice. Johnie Cooks and Glen Collins were picked in the opening round of the 1982 draft and Eric Moulds and Walt Harris were taken in the first round in 1996.
Cooks is the highest Bulldog draft pick, being taken second overall by the Baltimore Colts.