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Auburn Tigers 2015 NFL Draft Prospect Cameron Artis-Payne

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Where will the SEC's Leading Rusher fall in the draft?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Artis Payne had an interesting road to Auburn.  Pretty much non-coveted by any major school out of high school, he made his way west to Alan Hancock Community College in California.  There all he did was rush for over 3400 yards and score 43 touchdowns, ranking him as the #1 JUCO recruit in the country by most services.  He wound up at Auburn before the 2013 season and quickly earned his way into Auburn's running back rotation.  As the 2013 season wore on, he saw his carries decrease as Tre Mason established himself as one of the best backs in the country.

Stats

SEASON ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
2014 303 1608 5.3 37 13
2013 91 610 6.7 59 6
REC YDS AVG LNG TD
2014 13 147 11.3 19 0
2013 1 4 4 4 0

In 2014, Payne carried most of the load for the Tigers.  His 1,608 yards this year are the third-best rushing season in Auburn history, lead the SEC at 123.7 yds/game.  This earned Cameron first team all-SEC (coaches, AP) and SI.com honorable mention All-America.   He had some amazing games in an Auburn uniform.

Measurables

40 YD 20 YD 10 YD 225 BENCH VERTICAL JUMP BROAD SHUTTLE 3-CONE DRILL
4.53 2.67 1.61 - 36 1/2 9'10" - 7.13

CAP's 40 yard time was good for a tie for 6th at the NFL Combine. Of course, Corey Grant was not invited to the Combine, where he surely would have been the fastest and pushed CAP down to 7th. Still, 6th is good. He was tied for 8th in the Vertical Jump, and finished in the middle of the pack for the 3-Cone Drill. His numbers aren't fantastic, but they're up there.

Strengths and Weaknesses

But where will CAP wind up in the 2015 draft is uncertain. CBSSports.com projects him as the 13th best running back in the draft. Let's premise this by saying the NFL is not exactly a running back league in its present day form. Running backs are no longer franchise players due to longevity and the League being more pass happy than it was 20 years ago. Running backs are rarely first round picks these days.

So the given the NFL's love affair with QB's and receivers, where does that leave Cameron?  My guess is he will fall to the third or fourth round.  And that's not the worst news possible given the knocks on the guy we have all heard: no lateral quickness, no acceleration, no breakaway speed, goes down too easily, etc.

I think whomever winds up with Cameron probably finds him to be a very good back who can get the job done.  He will never be an Adrian Peterson.  But he can be a very good NFL back that can get you three yards when needed.

I think CAP needs some hands work after the draft before camp starts so he can be a reliable third down back in his rookie season.  He probably needs to add 10 pounds of muscle if he can as well.

And hopefully he can avoid the injury bug that has taken down so many promising Auburn running backs way too early over the years.

No matter what, best of luck to the guy.  Hope he gets a big time payday in the coming days and weeks.