Mississippi State is regularly a host to NFL scouts, and the first row of the press box is often lined with men in team-embroidered polos carrying binoculars and notebooks.
On Saturday when MSU played South Alabama in Davis Wade Stadium, a big-time guest and scout arrived in the form of New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese. The Giants have won two Super Bowls since Reese took over in January of 2007, including last season’s championship victory over the New England Patriots.
Graciously, Reese took a few minutes at the game to chat with me about several of MSU’s draft-eligible seniors, and as you’d imagine, All-American cornerback Johnthan Banks led off the conversation.
As anyone who’s talked to us both can tell you, Reese is a much smarter man than I. So, rather than break up his words, I kept our conversation in its original question-and-answer form for your enjoyment and perusal.
Two of the players Reese and I discussed – Banks and senior defensive tackle Josh Boyd – chose a great time to have a big game.
Does senior cornerback Johnthan Banks look like a first round guy to you?
Well, some teams like him. He’s been rated pretty good by the combine and he’s an interesting guy. He’s a height-weight-speed guy, what we call it in the National Football League. He has all those specific characteristics that we like.
He’s played safety and is pretty tall, a little bit different than the standard corner, it seems.
Yeah, you know, the New York Jets have a guy that’s similar in [Antonio] Cromartie, a tall corner. There are other corners that are on the list, as well. Corners are at a premium in the National Football League. The National Football League is built around offense. People like to see offense, you’ve got all these great receivers, but you’ve gotta have some corners to cover these guys. Corners are a premium and people are always looking for corners.
Speaking of corners, Darius Slay didn’t play a lot last year, but has really come on strong these first few games for MSU. Is he someone you think people have their eye on?
Like you said, I think he’s coming on, and again, people are looking for corners. He’ll get a lot of good looks because, one, you have Banks here, so he’s gonna get an extra look because everybody will come see Banks and see him, as well.
Cam Lawrence, an outside linebacker, racks up the tackles and has been a pretty intelligent player.
Those kind of guys make it as your fourth or fifth linebacker and play on special teams. They start on special teams and try to work your way up to get into the starting lineup.
Then defensive tackle Josh Boyd, who is the leader of MSU’s defensive line.
Yeah, Josh Boyd, everybody is looking for big people. In the National Football League, if you don’t have big people, it’s hard to win games. You have to have some bigs in the game, or you get run over.
In general, have you seen an increase in NFL prospects at Mississippi State the last few years?
For a while, they were down on NFL prospects, but they’re on the up-tick as far as NFL prospects are concerned. K.J. Wright is a good linebacker in Seattle, the ‘Hawks. We liked him, as well. The prospects are getting better, so somebody is doing something right around here.