Draft

Ole Miss DL Breeland Speaks is headed to the NFL a year early

Breeland Speaks
Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss junior defensive lineman Breeland Speaks, who rebounded from a mediocre sophomore season in 2016 to post big numbers this season, is bypassing his senior season to enter the draft.

The school announced the move on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaks (6 feet 3, 285 pounds) played both end and tackle at Ole Miss. He looked like a future star as a redshirt freshman at tackle in 2015, with 32 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. But while he started seven times in 2016 , he had a lackluster campaign and his motivation and work ethic were challenged. He rebounded this fall after he was moved to end and again flashed, finishing with 67 tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

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While Speaks had huge performances against LSU (13 tackles, two sacks) and Mississippi State (12 stops), he was inconsistent, especially early in the season. Still, when he is focused, he has the ability to become a key part of a solid line rotation in the NFL. There’s no question he improved his draft stock this season. He looks to be a mid-round pick; the question is whether he’s a third-rounder or a fourth-round guy.

(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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