Ole Miss Rebels left tackle Laremy Tunsil had little reason to stay in Oxford as one of the consensus top-tier prospects for the 2016 NFL draft.
Ole Miss confirmed Monday what many expected: Tunsil declared his intentions to enter the draft.
All that could diminish Tunsil's stock at this point are poor workouts, injuries or teams being discouraged by the seven-game suspension he received in 2015 for accepting benefits. Even after that unfortunate episode, the 21-year-old kept himself in shape and played at a high level when he returned to the lineup.
One league executive who spoke to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah asserted Tunsil is better than the highly drafted prospects at his position from recent years.
"Very good player. Plug-and-play left tackle," the executive said of Tunsil. "(There's) not much to improve on except body development. Makeup is good enough. He's a better college player than (Luke) Joeckel, (Jake) Matthews and especially (Eric) Fisher."
This testimony alone goes to show why Tunsil was wise to make the leap to the NFL early. Drafting someone as perceptibly safe as him is appealing. He can indeed start right away and excel with some minor refinement in his technique.
In addition to being a solid pass protector with upside to improve there, Tunsil shows tenacity as a run-blocker and can get to the second level of the defense with ease thanks to his explosiveness and athleticism.
Tunsil also rehabbed a fractured fibula suffered in the Peach Bowl as a sophomore and was ready to roll for the 2015 campaign before his suspension hit. He's demonstrated in two separate instances he has the capacity to take care of himself off the field, which can't be understated.
Having had the experience of facing stiff SEC competition and overcoming the adversity of a major injury and suspension, there's little else Tunsil could have done to better prepare himself for the pros. He figures to be one of the first five players off the board on draft night and should become a multiple-time Pro Bowler and franchise cornerstone for whichever team lands him.
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