Last week, Auburn had six players selected in the NFL Draft for the 2nd consecutive season. That’s an important number that has been growing under Gus Malzahn. The Athletic’s Justin Ferguson has been tracking this number since back in his SEC Country days and the trend is pretty clear - Gus Malzahn is putting players in the NFL at a historic rate ($).
So can this average of at least 4 drafted players continue next season? I think it’s likely though trying to predict anything in the NFL Draft is foolish especially a year away and even more so when a football season isn’t even a certainty. But this is the internet and speculation is fun!
Here’s where I think things stand just under a year away from the 2021 NFL Draft.
Likely Draft Picks
- Seth Williams
- Anthony Schwartz
- Big Kat Bryant
- Tyrone Truesdell
- K.J. Britt
There isn’t a bone fide 1st round draft pick on Auburn’s roster right now like there was last season in Derrick Brown. But there are 2 clear candidates that can make it that high though it will mean breaking some long offensive droughts. It’s been far too long since Auburn has had a 1,000 yard receiver but that could change in 2020. Chad Morris has had seven 1,000 yard receivers in his career and is hoping to replicate that success with Williams and Schwartz. I’ve seen Williams in some 1st round mocks but most seem to see him as a 2nd or 3rd round guy. Schwartz isn’t on any 1st round mocks but if the Tigers can find a way to better harness all that speed his stock could climb as well. A first round receiver for Auburn would be big. Two is almost unthinkable at this point.
After those two, I think you have three clear Day 3 guys who have some work to do to climb NFL teams’ boards this fall. Big Kat has played a lot of meaningful football for the Tigers and is poised for a strong senior campaign. But he’s never eclipsed 3.5 sacks in his career. He needs a Marlon Davidson like senior performance if he wishes to move into Day 2 territory.
Truesdell is a low ceiling, high floor prospect meaning he’s unlikely to fly up draft boards this fall but another strong campaign in 2020 will likely mean a team drafts him later in Day 3. Britt must improve in coverage if he wants to stay on the field at the next level but he’s a better athlete than Deshaun Davis who went in the 7th two years ago.
Possible Draft Picks
- Roger McCreary
- Jamien Sherwood
- Smoke Monday
- Eli Stove
For three consecutive years, Auburn’s top cover corner has left after his junior campaign and been drafted by the end of the 2nd round. That trend could continue next year but it will mean rising junior Roger McCreary needs to put together a big time junior season. Which is completely possible when you consider the fact that PFF rates him as Auburn’s top returning defender. The Tigers replace 4 of their starting 5 in the secondary, McCreary being the one.
The Tigers lose both starting safeties but might return better athletes in 2020. Sherwood and Monday have both flashed big time playmaking ability but it will be about consistency and production next season. Of the two, I actually think Sherwood is the more likely player to make the jump at this point. But there’s no denying that both Sherwood and Monday are insanely gifted players. Auburn now needs them to realize that potential this season.
- Daquan Newkirk
- Kilian Zierer
- Christian Tutt
- Brodarious Hamm
- Zakoby McClain
- Anders Carlson
In my opinion, the two guys most likely to make the jump from unheralded player to NFL draftee are Daquan Newkirk and Kilian Zierer. Newkirk has battled achilles injuries his first two seasons but is reportedly healthy and in the best shape of his life. There’s a Derrick Brown sized hole that needs filling next season and while I don’t see Newkirk becoming a 7th overall pick, the talent is there to be an upper echelon SEC tackle in my extremely amateur opinion.
As for Zierer, he’s one of the biggest wildcards for Auburn next season. The German native has only recently started playing football but quickly became one of the most coveted JUCO prospects in the country. He’s got the size and athleticism NFL GMs desire at tackle as well. But he’s coming off an ACL injury and is still so new to the game. I think it’s unlikely he’s a one and done but if you are looking for wildcards to watch on offense, he’s the guy.
After those those two are some interesting names. I think it’s highly unlikely Tutt makes the jump to the NFL considering his coverage struggles last season especially against elite wideouts but his versatility and tackling ability make him an intriguing prospect. McClain as well is probably an unlikely early departure but I thought he was Auburn’s best linebacker at times last season. He fits the mold of the modern day linebacker given his combination of size and athleticism. Let’s see if he can build on a strong debut sophomore campaign in 2020.
Hamm is a very interesting name when you consider the fact that his teammates have been hyping him up since his redshirt freshman season. We will finally get a good look at him in 2020 as he’s the favorite to start at right tackle. The consistent buzz with Hamm is his physicality. But in today’s modern NFL offenses you better be able to pass block. If Hamm lives up to the hype as a mauler and shows above average pass blocking skill, he could hear his name called next spring.
If the kicker we saw in the Iron Bowl shows up for every game next season, Anders Carlson might end up leaving early and making some cash. #KickerU