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NFL Draft Preview: Eli Stove

Auburn’s most consistent receiver in 2020 turns pro.

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

Eli Stove should be one of your favorite players, even if he never really had too much of a groundbreaking impact on the Plains. He was more of a worker, consistent with every snap. You knew you could count on him for a few yards or a first down, as well as leadership on and off the field.

Reasons to like him? First of all, his Instagram handle is @kitchen_appliance_12. Genius.

Second of all, he’s the model of never to yield when it comes to his time at Auburn. After making an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2016, and joining a deep and productive wide receiver roster in 2017, he was injured and missed most of the 2018 season. His time really did start off with a bang, as just his sixth ever touch went for the opening touchdown on Auburn’s first play against Arkansas in 2016.

I figured I’d give you the entire video from that game, because why not. Still, Stove proved to be a dangerous weapon through the air and on the ground, averaging 9.1 yards per touch on 191 receptions and rushes. He may one of the most quietly productive receivers in Auburn history, with his 136 catches landing him at fifth all-time on the Tiger receiving charts.

He’ll be remembered for fighting back from injury and providing a bit of backbone to the team throughout his five seasons on the Plains. However, now he’s off to the pros, so what can we expect from him at the next level?

POSITIVES

  • Agility: you can see what Stove brings to the table as a shifty slot receiver with the ability to move the chains and carry the ball in certain situations as well. He doesn’t have the top-end speed you might like to see, but he does have a bit of slip to him that makes plenty of defenders miss.
  • Leadership: the man worked through a torn ACL to come back and have two successful seasons, and he ended up playing five years when that’s almost unheard of in this day and age. He’ll be a little older than most of the players coming out in this class, so he’ll have a little more experience and he’ll be a bit more comfortable leading them in training camp. It could end up helping him on the way to grabbing a roster spot.
  • Versatility: this may end up being his biggest strength, where he’ll be able to play pretty much any special teams position in addition to his usual assignment of receiver. He’s not going to blow anyone off the page with his offensive game, but he could be a mainstay for someone’s special teams unit for years to come.

NEGATIVES

  • Elite speed: Stove ran just a 4.55 at Auburn’s Pro Day. While he’s not going to get run down by many defensive backs in the open field, he’s likely not going to separate from them either.
  • Injuries: while this may not be as much of a concern as it was a couple of decades ago, it was evident that Stove lost a step after his knee injury, and there were rumblings that he may be done with football overall after that surgery anyway. Teams will at least be a little cautious when dealing with him, but when they’re sticking him on a special teams unit, the snap counts will be more limited and may not matter as much.

PROJECTION

He’s not highly-rated at all, coming in at No. 338 in CBS’ prospect rankings, but he’s got an interesting dynamic that may turn him into a coveted late round prospect for multiple teams. With his experience playing several roles for Auburn, he’ll be asked to do the same in the NFL, especially with the limited roster sizes. Stove can obviously catch, run, and play special teams, so he could end up like Corey Grant did for Jacksonville and carve out a role that includes a jack-of-all-trades persona.

He’s met with a bunch of teams, including the Saints, who are missing much of their special teams core from last season.

As you can see, he’s met with quite a few teams, and has intrigued many with his versatility in the special teams realm. Therefore, his ceiling is most likely a late round (6th or 7th round) selection, but I would imagine he’s most likely to end up as an undrafted free agent. That’s not to say that he won’t end up making a roster, which I believe he will, he’s just not going to pop off the page at someone for an actual selection.