STARKVILLE – The 2020 NFL season kicks off tonight, and a total of 22 former Mississippi State Bulldogs earned spots on the final 53-man rosters for their respective franchise with 13 additional Bulldogs beginning the season on either the practice squad or injured reserve.
Fresh off winning Super Bowl LIV and signing a four-year, $85 million contract over the summer, Chris Jones enters his fifth season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He registered 9.0 sacks in the 2020 season and now boasts 136 career tackles. He ranked 10th in the NFL in pass rush grade (89.5) according to Pro Football Focus during the regular season and was among the top 15 players in the league in sack yardage (75.0).
Fletcher Cox was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth consecutive year in 2019, and he returns to lead the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense in 2020. His five selections are tied for seventh in Eagles history. Last year he posted 10.0 tackles for loss and was tied for fifth among interior lineman in total pressures (56).
Cox reunites with former Bulldog teammate Darius Slay after one of the league’s top cornerbacks signed with the franchise in the offseason. Slay leads all NFL players with 104 pass defenses since 2013 and is third among active players in interceptions (19) since 2014. In 2019 with the Lions, he became the only player in league history to record six straight seasons with 12 or more pass defenses and two interceptions all with the same franchise.
K.J. Wright and Pernell McPhee are the longest-tenured former Bulldogs as they begin their 10th seasons in the NFL. Wright set a new single-season career high with 132 total tackles for the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 to rank 11th in the league. McPhee helped the Baltimore Ravens allow just 17.6 points per game which ranked third in the regular season.
Dak Prescott enters his fifth season as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys after throwing for 4,902 yards and coming just one yard shy of tying the franchise record for single-season passing yards a year ago. He broke the Cowboys’ record for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (21) while finishing second in the NFL in passing yards and fourth in completions.
Johnathan Abram (Oakland), Deion Calhoun (Cincinnati), Elgton Jenkins (Green Bay), Jeffery Simmons (Tennessee) and Montez Sweat (Washington) all return for the second year in the league.
Three Bulldog rookies earned spots on 53-man rosters, including second-round draft pick Willie Gay Jr. (Kansas City) and third-round selections Cameron Dantzler (Minnesota) and Tyre Phillips (Baltimore).
The Green Bay Packers lead all franchises with four Bulldogs on their active roster, include Jenkins, Hunter Bradley, Will Redmond and Preston Smith.
Jaquarius Landrews (New York Giants) and Martinas Rankin (Kansas City) will open the year on injured reserve. Stephen Guidry (Dallas Cowboys) has opted out of the season.
Ten former Bulldogs will contribute to their organizations and look to make the active roster in the future by participating on the practice squad. That includes 2020 draft selections Brian Cole II (Miami) and Tommy Stevens (New Orleans) along with undrafted free agents Tommy Champion (Seattle), Farrod Green (Indianapolis), Chauncey Rivers (Baltimore), Darryl Williams (Kansas City) and Isaiah Zuber (New England).
Below is a list of former Mississippi State student-athletes who are currently with NFL teams. Please use the link to view season and career statistics from NFL.com.
|NAME||AT MSU||TEAM||YEARS IN LEAGUE||POSITION|
|Johnathan Abram||2017-18||Oakland Raiders||2||S|
|Denico Autry*||2012-13||Indianapolis Colts||7||DT/DE|
|Hunter Bradley||2012-17||Green Bay Packers||3||LS|
|Fred Brown#||2014-15||Denver Broncos||2||WR|
|Deion Calhoun||2014-18||Cincinnati Bengals||2||OG|
|Tommy Champion#||2017-19||Seattle Seahawks||R||OT|
|Brian Cole II#||2017-19||Miami Dolphins||R||S|
|Logan Cooke||2014-17||Jacksonville Jaguars||3||P|
|Fletcher Cox*^||2009-11||Philadelphia Eagles||9||DT|
|Cameron Dantzler||2016-19||Minnesota Vikings||R||CB|
|Willie Gay Jr.||2017-19||Kansas City Chiefs||R||LB|
|J.T. Gray||2014-17||New Orleans Saints||3||DB|
|Farrod Green#||2015-19||Indianapolis Colts||R||TE|
|Gerri Green#||2014-18||Indianapolis Colts||1||LB|
|Stephen Guidry – IR||2018-19||Dallas Cowboys||R||WR|
|Braxton Hoyett#||2014-18||Kansas City Chiefs||1||DT|
|Gabe Jackson*||2009-13||Oakland Raiders||7||OG|
|Elgton Jenkins*||2014-18||Green Bay Packers||2||OG|
|Chris Jones*^||2013-15||Kansas City Chiefs||5||DT|
|Jaquarius Landrews – IR||2017-19||New York Giants||R||S|
|Benardrick McKinney*||2011-14||Houston Texans||6||LB|
|Pernell McPhee||2009-10||Baltimore Ravens||10||LB|
|Tyre Phillips||2017-19||Baltimore Ravens||R||OT|
|Dak Prescott*||2011-15||Dallas Cowboys||5||QB|
|Martinas Rankin – IR||2015-17||Kansas City Chiefs||3||OT|
|Will Redmond||2012-15||Green Bay Packers||5||S|
|Chauncey Rivers#||2017-19||Baltimore Ravens||R||DE|
|Jeffery Simmons*||2016-18||Tennessee Titans||2||DL|
|Darius Slay*^||2011-12||Philadelphia Eagles||8||CB|
|Preston Smith*||2011-14||Green Bay Packers||6||LB|
|Tommy Stevens#||2019||New Orleans Saints||R||QB|
|Montez Sweat*||2017-18||Washington Football Team||2||DE|
|Jordan Thomas#||2016-17||Arizona Cardinals||3||TE|
|Darryl Williams#||2015-19||Kansas City Chiefs||R||OT|
|K.J. Wright*||2007-10||Seattle Seahawks||10||LB|
|Isaiah Zuber#||2019||New England Patriots||R||WR|
* – 2019 Regular Starter
^ – 2019 Pro Bowl Selection
IR – Injured Reserved
# – Practice Squad