Ole Miss Football: Rebels competing in NFL Playoffs this weekend

Former Ole Miss football tight end Dawson Knox of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Former Ole Miss football tight end Dawson Knox of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

With the first round of the NFL playoffs taking place this weekend, we highlight some former Rebels competing for a chance to win the Lombardi. The Ole Miss football program has churned out some top NFL talent in recent years and some of the Rebel’s biggest stars will be on display in Super Wild Card weekend.

Dawson Knox, Tight End, Buffalo Bills

Knox spent three years with Ole Miss from 2016-2018 where he caught 39 passes for 605 yards in his 18-game career with the Rebels. Surprisingly, Knox never scored a touchdown in college but he’s caught 20 in his four seasons with the Bills including six this season.

He has been a cornerstone piece for a high-powered Bills offense that has been a top contender in the NFL playoffs over the last few years.

Mike Hilton, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

Mike Hilton is one of the more inspiring stories from the Ole Miss football program in recent years. Hilton was one of the catalysts for the Rebel’s success from 2013-2015 where he was the Chucky Mullins award winner in his final season.

Hilton went undrafted in the 2016 NFL draft but was eventually signed before being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He would end up making a name for himself in the league as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for four years where he earned a spot on the field by becoming the Steeler’s primary nickelback.

In 2021 Hilton would sign with the division rival Cincinnati Bengals where he played a vital role in last year’s NFL playoffs helping the Bengals go an improbable Super Bowl run.

Sam Williams, Defensive End, Dallas Cowboys

Williams played at Northeast Mississippi Community College before transferring to the Ole Miss football program in 2019. In 2021 he broke the Ole Miss single season-sack record with 12.5 sacks.

He was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by Dallas at 56th overall and has been a consistent contributor for the Cowboys this season.

Snoop Conner, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Mississippi native and former Ole Miss running back was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fifth round, 154th overall, of the 2022 NFL Draft. While Conner hasn’t seen a lot of action this season, he scored his first NFL touchdown in week 17 against the Houston Texans.

Evan Engram, Tight End, Jacksonville Jaguars

Another cornerstone piece that contributed to the success of the Hugh Freeze era, Engram has had a bit of an up-and-down NFL career. After a stellar career with the Ole Miss football program, Engram was drafted 23rd overall by the New York Giants in 2017.

Engram spent five years with the Giants before becoming a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars this past offseason where he’s had the best season of his career statistically.

Accumulating 73 catches for 766 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, Engram helped the Jaguars reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Greg Little, Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins

Greg Little spent three years as a member of the Ole Miss football program, becoming one of the best offensive line prospects in college football. Little was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round with the 37th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

He played in four total games including three starts at left tackle for Carolina before injuries derailed his 2019 and 2020 seasons.

In 2021 Little was traded to the Miami Dolphins where he’s served as the backup left tackle over the last couple of years.

DK Metcalf, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

DK Metcalf has been one of the top pass catchers in the NFL since being drafted in 2019. The Oxford, MS native was one of the most dominant players at his position in college football before a neck injury cut his college career short.

Metcalf was a second-round selection by the Seattle Seahawks where he quickly became their best offensive weapon upon joining the team. In his four-year career with Seattle Metcalf has never had less than 900 yards receiving and he’s racked up 35 touchdowns in that span.

The Seahawks were a long shot to make the playoffs this year and Metcalf has helped them keep their postseason hopes afloat with numerous big-time performances.

Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

Any Ole Miss football fan will have a true affinity for former Rebel Laquon Treadwell. He helped bring the Ole Miss football program back to relevance in 2014 and was regarded as the best offensive player on those Hugh Freeze-led teams.

Although he hasn’t quite been able to replicate his college success in the NFL, he has sustained a six-year-long career in the pros so far.

A member of six different teams, he had his best season statistically with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 posting 51 catches for 434 yards and a touchdown before teaming up with fellow Rebel DK Metcalf in Seattle earlier this year.

Deane Leonard, Cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers

Leonard spent two years as a member of the Rebels football program from 2020-2021. In 2021 he became a full-time starter and one of the SEC’s better corners.

The native Canadian was a seventh-round draft choice in the 2022 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers and has served as a backup defensive back this season

*AJ Brown, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

There’s an asterisk on Brown because he isn’t technically playing this weekend as his Philadelphia Eagles squad received a first-round bye when they captured the number one overall seed in the NFC.

However, no list talking about Rebels playing in the NFL could be complete without mentioning him.

Brown spent three years with the Tennessee Titans after being selected in the second round in 2019 and almost immediately became one of the league’s best receivers. He helped the Titans make multiple NFL playoff appearances.

He’s had over 1,000 yards in every season but one, in 2021 when he missed 4 games.

After getting traded this past season to the Philadelphia Eagles, Brown was just shy of 1,500 receiving yards, good enough for fourth overall in the NFL. He also added 11 receiving touchdowns which tied him for third overall.

This Philadelphia Eagles team seems to be poised to make a deep playoff run this postseason with Brown as the primary weapon on offense.