COLUMBIA, Mo. – Barring a completely unexpected turn of events, the Missouri football team isn’t expected to have a player picked in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night in Dallas.
There’s a better shot for a few former Tigers to have their names called in the second or third rounds Friday, and a strong likelihood that at least a few will be scooped up by the time the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds finish up Saturday.
Wide receiver J’Mon Moore and defensive end Marcell Frazier have gotten the most pre-draft buzz this offseason. Moore shined at the NFL combine on March 3, and Frazier impressed at the Tigers’ pro day two weeks later.
Safety Anthony Sherrils has largely flown under the radar this offseason. Some experts think he’s the best prospect the Tigers have in this year’s draft.
“It bemuses me how little he is being talked about by draft gurus,” Matty Brown, a contributor at the football site “Inside the Pylon,” said in an email. “He's probably a late-round pick/(undrafted free agent) in this draft. That seems crazy to me.”
Sherrils, who had 64 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last year as a senior, wasn’t listed in seven-round mock drafts on NFL.com, CBS Sports or Land of 10. Twenty-seven safeties were invited to the NFL combine, but Sherrils wasn’t one of them.
Brown coaches defensive backs at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He said he started following the sport after seeing a game on British network Sky Sports in 2012 – now Sky Sports publishes his football analysis.
He played two years of defensive back at East Anglia, but he now coaches what he calls the “stingiest defensive back group in Division I” of the British Universities of College and Sport American football league.
Brown said he’s watched tape on Sherrils going back three seasons, including five Southeastern Conference games from 2017. He said the Missouri safety is one of the most disciplined players he’s ever seen and could thrive in a split safety or two-high scheme in the NFL.
“He is ultra-aware of his responsibility and run fits in a defense – plus a teammate's,” Brown said. “That makes him an immediate contributor as a superbly aware and fast run defender. He's elite defending the run. His form tackling, with his head firmly out of the way, is something which can't be overlooked.”
His size, at 6-foot and 200 pounds, checks out for an NFL defensive backfield.
“With the athleticism and play speed he shows on tape, plus his tackling form, his size is irrelevant,” Brown said. “His play strength is very good due to his tackling technique.”
Sherrils’ best work came in the second half of the season, long after a forgettable Week 1 performance against Missouri State.
He recovered to force four total takeaways in victories over Florida and Tennessee, even earning SEC co-defensive player of the week honors after the Tigers beat the Gators on Nov. 4.
Then, at Missouri’s pro day, Sherrils ran a blistering 4.42-second 40-yard dash and recorded 25 reps of the 225-pound bench press. Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly believes that performance might have punched Sherrils’ draft ticket.
“People are always looking for defensive backs,” Edholm said of the Kansas City native and Hogan Prep graduate. “You don’t see safeties put up 25 reps on the bench. You don’t see safeties run a (4.4 40-yard dash). That’s wide receiver speed. That’s gonna get some notice. That probably got him drafted right there.”
Edholm said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Sherrils in the top 100 picks. Sherrils’ case is helped by the fact that teams are often in need of depth at defensive back and that his speed and tackling ability can also be used immediately on special teams.
Edholm sees an opportunity for Sherrils to be drafted by the Chicago Bears, who are in need of depth at defensive back and have two picks in the fourth round.
Moore helped his case this offseason, too.
“He ran a 6.6-second three-cone drill. That’s elite quickness, especially for a guy his size,” Edholm said of Moore. “I know the consistency with him catching the football, doesn’t always play up to that size, yeah, those (things) are concerning. He reads like a fourth-round pick to me all day.”
Frazier is a pass-rushing defensive end in a draft class short on elite pass-rushing defensive ends. That probably doesn’t mean he’ll be a first- or second-day pick, but it does help his case on draft weekend.
Frazier said via text Tuesday that he’s heard from multiple teams that have rated him anywhere from Round 2 to Round 7. Edholm reported previously that Frazier has worked out with the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers this offseason.
If any one of those three players were to fall through the draft, he’d almost certainly be picked up immediately as undrafted free agents. Other Tigers that could get signed after the draft are offensive linemen Tyler Howell and Adam Ploudre, linebacker Eric Beisel and running back Ish Witter.