Throughout the history of the National Football League, the state of Mississippi has supplied the league with an enormous amount of talent, and this year seems to be no different. From Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, here are the top performances by Mississippi players.
Jonathan Abram (Las Vegas Raiders – DB)
Watching Abram play on Sunday took me back to Mississippi State’s 2017 Spring Game when the sophomore at the time hit a teammate so hard that Dan Mullen was practically forced to call off the scrimmage early. That was the exact moment I knew Jonathan Abram was going to be one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in the league once he made it there. He proved me right in the Raiders’ opening win over the Carolina Panthers. The second-year Abram finished the contest with 13 tackles and a few big hits.
Denico Autry (Indianapolis Colts – DE)
In a surprisingly bad opening performance by the Colts, former East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State standout Denico Autry was one of the few bright spots. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Autry was the Colts’ second-highest graded defender (71.8) in Week 1 as the veteran pass rusher had two sacks, two tackles for a loss, plus two quarterback hurries.
Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams – RB)
Many analysts thought Clinton native Cam Akers was going to be the lead back for the Rams, who recently decided to step away from a five-year relationship with Todd Gurley, however, it was another Mississippian who shined in the L.A. backfield during Week 1. Malcolm Brown, who originally is from Biloxi, rushed the ball 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 31 yards in the Rams’ 20-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Chris Carson (Seattle Seahawks – RB)
It was a big day for running backs from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Like Brown, Chris Carson was also born in Biloxi and played a big role in his team’s Week 1 win. The 2019 Pro Bowler helped the Seahawks take care of the Atlanta Falcons, 38-25, with his contribution of 66 total yards and two touchdowns. While he wasn’t able to necessarily find his groove on the ground, Carson made up for it with six catches for 45 yards.
Demario Davis (New Orleans Saints – LB)
The night before the season opener, the Saints managed to secure Demario Davis for at least three more years after coming to terms on a $27 million deal with the Brandon native. On Sunday against the Buccaneers, the All-Pro linebacker showed why he’s worth the extension. Davis finished third on the team with six tackles and added a big fourth-quarter sack. What doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet is Davis’ incredible ability to stop the run. Against the Bucs, the Saints defense, marshaled by Davis, allowed just 86 yards on the ground.
Elgton Jenkins (Green Bay Packers – OL)
The Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, led by Elgton Jenkins, put on a show Sunday versus the Vikings. Jenkins, who had only played one game at right tackle during his time at Mississippi State, began the day protecting Aaron Rodgers’ frontside, but after a couple injuries inside, he made the in-game transition to left guard. Tackle or guard, it didn’t matter for Jenkins as the Clarksdale native did not allow a single pressure all day long. According to PFF, Jenkins was the fifth-highest-graded pass blocker (87.2) from Week 1.
Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs – DL)
During the Chiefs’ Thursday Night Football matchup against the Texans, Chris Jones wasted no time to remind everyone why he’s considered one of the top interior linemen in the NFL. Jones, who finished 2019 with a team-leading nine sacks, had 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries in the 34-20 win over Houston. No wonder Kansas City prioritized the re-signing of Jones this past offseason, agreeing to a four-year contract worth $85 million with the former Mississippi State standout.
D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks – WR)
In the Seahawks’ win against the Falcons, D.K. Metcalf pulled in four catches for 95 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown on fourth down. With an average of almost 24 yards per catch, Metcalf showcased the big-play ability that we saw all of last year in a rookie season that resulted in 900 receiving yards for the Oxford native.
Gardner Minshew, II (Jacksonville Jaguars – QB)
After a mass exodus during the 2020 offseason, the Jaguars looked like a shell of the team that was one possession away from a Super Bowl two seasons ago. The departures of Leonard Fourette, Yannick Ngakoue, and Nick Foles had most analysts predicting Jacksonville to be the worst team in the NFL. One thing that I have learned in the last year is not to doubt Gardner Minshew, II. The Brandon native and Washington State product shocked the entire football world with an impressive, out-of-nowhere rookie campaign in 2019, and after watching Sunday’s upset versus a Philip Rivers-led Colts team, I’m convinced that Minshew is the real deal. His final stat line: 19/20 passing (95%), 191 total yards, and three touchdowns.