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NFL Draft Preview: Nick Coe

Auburn’s most versatile DL didn’t have the dominant 2019 campaign like hoped but he still has the upside worth someone taking a chance this week.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2019 season, Auburn’s defensive line entered with a ton of deserved hype. The trifecta of Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe all decided to return and give it one more go in the orange and blue. For Brown and Davidson, that decision proved smart. The two combined for 23.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Brown enters Thursday as a likely top 10 pick while Davidson has been mocked from anywhere to late in the 1st round to somewhere in the 2nd. For Nick Coe, things haven’t gone as smoothly.

Coe was Auburn’s sack leader in 2018 with 7 sacks. Before the season, all the discussion about the North Carolina native was about his versatility and how Auburn would use him in all sorts of different roles from defensive tackle to linebacker. In fact, Auburn listed Coe as its #1 “Outside Linebacker” heading into the Auburn’s season opening showdown with Oregon.

But instead of Coe being a Swiss Army knife of the defense, he struggled to make much of an impact anywhere. He recorded zero sacks last season, tallied only 3.5 TFL and totaled a dismal 15 tackles. It was not the junior campaign Coe nor Auburn had hoped for him in 2019.

However, there’s no denying Coe’s athletic potential and we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the talented athlete during his redshirt freshman and sophomore campaigns. He’s got the raw tools that many scouts drool over and as such will likely hear his name called sometime this week.

Strengths

Coe is unquestionably one of the more versatile lineman in this class. During his time at Auburn he played the Buck, strong side defensive end and defensive tackle positions with varying degrees of success. His best season (2018) came when the majority of his snaps were logged at the Buck. While not necessarily an elite pass rusher, Coe has the length, flexibility and strength scouts love to see in their edge prospects. When he puts all those tools together he’s fun to watch.

In my very amateur opinion, where Coe thrives is with his hand in the ground on the edge, especially in an odd front. With his wrestling background it’s unsurprising Coe has strong hands and a deep understanding on how to use them to control his would be blocker. He seems to excel specifically in situations where he’s asked to contain a gap in the run game.

Weaknesses

While Coe’s versatility will likely be appealing to NFL front offices, his lack of consistent production will also mean a team probably won’t take a chance on him until Day 3. He’s a developmental player without a specific “elite” skill to hang his hat on.

For a player with his size and strength, Coe ends up on the ground far too often. This was especially true when he lined up inside at defensive tackle. Auburn actually began the season with him as Derrick Brown’s partner in the middle. Oregon attacked him with great success and part of the reason AU’s defense started getting stops was because of Tyrone Truesdell taking over Coe’s spot inside.

As a pass rusher, Coe doesn’t have much in the terms of counters. If he doesn’t get the edge initially or he isn’t strong enough to bull rush by the tackle chances are good he won’t be impacting the QB that play.

Numbers

40 Yard Dash - 4.89

Bench Press - 21 reps

Vertical Jump - 29”

Broad Jump - 116”

Bottom Line

I still believe Nick Coe is an NFL talent and one team will take a chance on his upside this week. Most projections seem to have Coe going anywhere from late 4th round to somewhere in the 6th. I am going to take the middle and say he hears his name called in the 5th. It will all come down to fit for Coe. If he lands somewhere that can best utilize his skillset and puts him in a position to succeed, he can make an impact at the next level.

Round Value: 5th