How many Missouri Tigers could be selected in NFL Draft? Perhaps a record number

The NFL Draft, which begins its three-day run next Thursday, could have a distinct Missouri flavor.

As many as seven Mizzou Tigers could hear their names called. And if that’s the case, it would match the largest number of MU players picked in a single NFL Draft in school history

“This a dream come true for them to play at the highest level and their families,” Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz said while attending Missouri’s Come Home Tour rally in Overland Park on Monday. “We’ve got some guys who are climbing the boards as we speak.”

The group is led by defensive lineman Darius Robinson and cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. Several projections have them taken no later than the second round, and some have them as late-first-round choices.

Robinson, a Detroit native, has accepted an invitation to attend the Draft, which will take place in his hometown. He can play inside or on the edge.

“I’m going to play physical,” Robinson said at the NFL Combine.. “I just want an opportunity to put my cleats in the ground and play as fast as I can.”

If Robinson isn’t the first Missouri player selected, it likely will be Rakestraw. He started as a freshman and played in 32 games over four seasons. He had one interception at Mizzou but was rarely targeted.

Another Tigers cornerback, Kris Abrams-Draine, could be selected on the Draft’s second day (Rounds 2 and 3). He led the SEC in passes defended, with 13, and collected four interceptions.

Tackle Javon Foster, linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper and safety JC Carlies are projected as third-day selections.

The most intriguing prospect is running back Cody Schrader. He also has popped up as a late-round possibility. The former Division II star who came to Missouri as a walk-on led the SEC in rushing, with 1,627 yards, and finished with 14 touchdowns.

At the Combine, Schrader pulled up with a hamstring injury while running the 40-yard dash. His ability to find holes and use his explosiveness could serve him well as a kick-return specialist with the new NFL rules emphasizing returns.

The Chiefs have the final pick in the first and second rounds, at Nos. 32 and 64. The last Missouri player selected by the Chiefs? Linebacker Nick Bolton, in the second round in 2021.

An active draft for the Tigers will be a reflection of one of the best seasons in program history. Mizzou capped an 11-2 season with a Cotton Bowl triumph over Ohio State, and then brought the trophy to Monday’s festivities at Chicken N Pickle.

The Tigers are thinking big again this season.

“That’s the floor of what we expect to be,” said sophomore wide receiver Joshua Manning of Lee’s Summit.

The upcoming NFL Draft should confirm to Drinkwitz what he believed entering MU’s 2023 campaign.

“I felt very confident going into last season that it was the most talented team I had coached since we’ve been at Mizzou,” he said. “I think this year will be the most talented team since I’ve been at Mizzou.”