2025 NFL Draft Buzz: Two Ole Miss Defenders Receiving Early First-Round Projections

The Ole Miss Rebels locked up some of the best talent available in the NCAA Transfer Portal this offseason, and two newcomers on the defensive side of the ball could wind up being early first-round picks in the 2025 NFL Draft.
Florida Gators defensive end Princely Umanmielen (1) lines up against Vanderbilt Commodores tight
Florida Gators defensive end Princely Umanmielen (1) lines up against Vanderbilt Commodores tight / Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA

OXFORD, Miss. -- The 2024 NFL Draft was rather quiet for the Ole Miss Rebels, as only three former players were selected last weekend, but next year’s draft is already shaping up to be a more popular event for the program.

Experts are already creating prospect big boards and way-too-early mock drafts for 2025, and a handful of Rebels have been included in these predictions. But which Rebels are being discussed and where are they expected to fall in the 2025 NFL Draft?

We have already looked at the draft stock for Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart and receivers Tre Harris and Antwane Wells, and now we will examine two Rebel prospects on the defensive side of the ball: Walter Nolen and Princely Umanmielen.

Both Nolen and Umanmielen arrived at Ole Miss via the NCAA Transfer Portal this offseason after playing for the Texas A&M Aggies and Florida Gators, respectively. Nolen was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 class, and recorded 66 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, and one forced fumble in two seasons with Texas A&M. Nolen was at one point the No. 1 overall player in the portal this offseason, and he brings with him loads of NFL potential.

Out of all the Ole Miss prospects covered in this mini-series, Nolen has been the highest pick in early mock drafts. The Powell, Tenn., native was included in the latest way-too-early mock draft by the Associated Press, and the outlet predicted that Nolen shall be selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the seventh overall pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.

"This should be a top-notch class of defensive tackles and the former five-star recruit could be the best of the bunch," the Associated Press writes.

Umanmielen is also getting some early first-round buzz, as CBS Sports recently projected the former four-star prospect to be picked up by the Seattle Seahawks with the 11th overall selection. The Manor, Tex., native was rated as the No. 2 edge rusher in the portal this offseason, per On3, after recording 98 total tackles, 24.5 TFLs, 14.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in four seasons with the Gators.

Fox Sports has Umanmielen heading back to the "Sunshine State" in its latest 2025 mock draft, with the 6-5, 255-pound edge rusher falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 16 overall.

"Umanmielen transferred to Ole Miss in the offseason in hopes that a change of scenery could result in a breakout campaign," Fox Sports writes. "Umanmielen has the size and explosiveness scouts want to develop, but he needs to show greater consistency."

Ben King