OL Charles Cross, WR Makai Polk and CB Martin Emerson all competed in the NFL combine over this past weekend, and all three showcased the skills that placed them at the forefront of head coach Mike Leach’s squad this past season.
Chiefly among the three prospects is Charles Cross. Cross was predicted by many mock drafts to be a top-10 pick come draft day before the combine even began, and he showcased just why that was the case in front of plenty of prying eyes.
Cross turned in a 4.95 40-yard dash time, slotting him as the 10th fastest offensive lineman in the class in that area. The Laurel, MS native also turned in a 9-foot-4 inch broad jump, the eight best at his position. Cross has drawn play comparisons to Tampa Bay Buccaneer all-pro OT Tristan Wirfs. For reference, Wirfs is the same man that was handed the job of protecting Tom Brady in his 2020 rookie campaign. Any time a player can draw comparisons like that, good things tend to happen.
NFL Next-Gen Stats have Cross graded out as an elite level talent, and he’s still in the conversation to be the first tackle taken off the board in many mock drafts. Only time will tell, but unless something drastic happens, Cross should be off the board on day one.
Makai Polk was the SEC’s leader in receptions in his lone year in the Air Raid offense, and much to the disappointment of Bulldog fans, declared for the draft soon after the conclusion of the 2021 season. Polk was never a burner during his time at MSU, and his speed di lui was something of concern for NFL scouts.
Polk turned in a 4.59 in the 40-yard dash, which didn’t exactly help his case in terms of breakaway speed. 40 times aren’t everything, though, and Polk showed just why that’s the case in just about every other event over the weekend. His hands of him were as sure as ever, and scouts took notice. They also like Polk’s ability to high-point catches, such as we saw in the fourth quarter of the Memphis game this past season.
Scouts took notice of Polk’s ability to run the Mike Leach route tree efficiently, but did express concerns that said route tree wasn’t near as expansive as that of an NFL offense, so Polk has some learning to do. However, they also took notice of Polk’s pure knack for the position and high football IQ, which could be the exact thing that winds up getting Polk off the board in the late rounds.
Finally, Martin Emerson was the last Bulldog to see the field over the weekend, as defensive backs worked out on Sunday. Straight up, Emerson is a big guy. He measures out at 6-foot-2 and over 200 lbs., Making him one of the biggest in the class. His hand size di lui is also ridiculously impressive at 10 1/8 “. With that size, though, comes some drawbacks.
Emerson turned in a 4.53 40-yard dash time, and while that might have been faster than his former Bulldog teammate Makai Polk, it wasn’t fast enough to impress the eyes in attendance. Emerson does impress scouts in other fashions, though. Remember that size we talked about? That lends to Emerson having an incredibly stiff punch in press coverage, slowing down and potentially stopping the release of smaller receivers.
Most scouts have Emerson pegged as a kick coverage specialist with a talent and nose for the ball in special teams coverage, but knowing the type of player and competitor he was at MSU, don’t be shocked if he has enough raw coverage skills to make a 53-man roster.
While only three players participated in the NFL combine, MSU will be hosting a pro-day on March 22 at 1 pm CT, where several more Bulldogs will make their case in front of NFL scouts.