Bulldogs ready to hear names called during NFL Draft

Martinas Rankin
Staff Writer

Former Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin isn’t picky.

With the National Football League Draft beginning Thursday night and lasting through Saturday, Rankin has no preference as to where he’d like to continue his football career. All he knows is he wants to play somewhere.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Rankin said last month at MSU’s Pro Day. “It is all about getting out there on the field. Whatever team calls my name, it’s just about embracing that process and just being happy. I am going to be happy when that time comes. I can’t wait. I can’t find enough words to describe how grateful I am and how blessed I am to be in this position.”

Rankin stands as the most likely former Bulldog to be drafted in the coming days. He is currently projected as a second-day selection who offers teams five-position versatility on the offensive line. If he is drafted as expected, Rankin would be the second offensive lineman taken from MSU in as many years. Justin Senior was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round last year.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Rankin said. “My entire life I have dreamed of this opportunity. To know that it is right around the corner is crazy. I am thankful, and I hope I am an inspiration to all of my people in my hometown and to everyone at Mississippi State. I hope to continue to motivate these guys to be great.”

Former State tight end Jordan Thomas could also be drafted in the later rounds, though it’s far from a sure thing. NFL scouts love Thomas’s size and athleticism, however they say Thomas’ draft attention is based mostly on his physical traits and potential as opposed to his actual performance on the football field the last several years.

Still, one anonymous NFC personnel director thinks Thomas could hear his name called.

“There are some teams that think (Thomas) is a sleeper as a slot matchup guy,” the executive told NFL.com. “I started hearing buzz on that back at the Combine. He’s big and has some athletic ability so he probably goes earlier than you think.”

Like Rankin, Thomas has no preferences.

“I don’t care which team,” Thomas said. “I am just excited. If you would’ve asked me in high school if I would be in the position that I am today, I would have probably told you no, so, being where I am from, it is a great experience and I am enjoying everything about it from the (NFL) Combine to Pro Day. I am just enjoying everything. You can’t wipe a smile off my face.”

In addition to Rankin and Thomas, a few other former Bulldogs are in line to either be drafted or be among undrafted free agent signings. Those include punter Logan Cooke, long snapper Hunter Bradley, safety J.T. Gray, wide receiver Donald Gray, linebacker Dez Harris and cornerback Lashard Durr.

The draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday night and television coverage will be provided by ESPN, NFL Network and Fox. The three-day event continues at 6 p.m. Friday on all three networks before wrapping up at 11 a.m. on Saturday.