Ole Miss WR/TE Breakdown
As Ole Miss gets closer to its first game against South Alabama (September 2nd), we continue with the position by position breakdown of the team. This edition will combine the wide receiver and tight end postitions as their roles on offense are very similar in Phil Longo’s air raid offense. With the loss of players such as Quincey Adeboyejo, Demore’ea Stringfellow, and Evan Engram, it is important for young players at both positions to step up in 2017.
Leading The Pack
While the Rebels come in with low expectations after an unbearable offseason, the level of talent that Ole Miss has with its receivers is without question. Ole Miss’ preseason depth chart lists starters at four different receiver positions. At the two outside receiver spots, AJ Brown and DK Metcalf are listed as the starters. Both receivers possess elite size and strength. Brown, a sophomore, is listed at 6-1, 225. In his freshman season, he caught 29 passes for 412 yards and two touchdowns playing at a crowded position. Metcalf (6-4, 225) played in the first two games of 2016 after suffering a foot injury that ended his freshman season. He did, however, haul in two scores before being sidelined.
At the two inside receiver spots, Markell Pack and Van Jefferson are the top players. Jefferson will enter his redshirt sophomore season after catching 49 passes for 543 yards and three scores. He is a sure handed player and is considered to be the best route runner on the team. Markell Pack enters his senior season as a player that most would consider an underachiever. He was a consensus four star recruit and has yet to start a game in Oxford. However, he was named most improved offensive player this spring and leads all players on the team with 710 yards receiving. Pack and Jefferson are very similar in style of play and physique (Pack: 6-2, 185 Jefferson: 6-2, 195). Both will be heavily counted on during the season.
The tight end position is a complete mystery. Engram was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft leaving almost no experience at the position. Dawson Knox, a sophomore walk-on, is listed as the starter for now but that could change at any moment. Knox has only seen a handful of snaps but provided a reliable option at the position in the spring.
Key Depth (WR)
Demarkus Lodge and Tre Nixon will be key backups at receiver. Lodge is entering his junior season and will have a bigger role than he has had the past two seasons. He has good size, listed at 6-2, 199, and enters the season with 215 yards and 3 touchdowns receiving. Nixon redshirted in 2016 but will have to contribute heavily this season. He is a smaller receiver (6-1, 172) but has elite speed. He will contribute both as a receiver and return specialist. Jason Pellerin is listed as a back up receiver after being experimented with at tight end during the spring. Listed at 6-4, 237, Pellerin would provide a huge target at wide receiver. He will most likely see time on the field as an H-Back as well. He may also have a wildcat quarterback package reserved for him.
Key Depth (TE)
Discerning who will be key backups at a position that is unclear can be very difficult. Any player that is listed as a back up at this moment could easily find themselves in a starting role during the season. Ty Quick will be another option at tight end. Quick did have some playing time in a wildcat package that featured Pellerin at quarterback. Octavious Cooley is the only other tight end to see the field last season. Cooley definitely has the size to play tight end (6-3 268) but did not record a catch in 2016. Jacob Mathis and Gabe Angel both redshirted last year and could see the field.
Ole Miss signed three receivers in their 2017 recruiting class. The best athlete of the three, D.D. Bowie, will most likely be used as cornerback in Oxford. Javonta Payton and Braylon Sanders are both receivers that aren’t big like Metcalf or Brown, but do possess good speed. The Rebels do not have the depth at the receiver position they have had in years past. Don’t be surprised to see one or both of these players on the field this season. Ole Miss did not sign a tight end in this year’s recruiting class.
Time to Step Up
Ole Miss has six guys that can be counted on immediately this season. While this position group does not have the depth it has seen at times, the skill level is there. Brown, Metcalf, and Jefferson all have the potential to be All-SEC players. The tight end position is completely unproven and will have to develop as the season goes on.
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