Sammie Coates may be the first Auburn player off the Big Board at this year's NFL Draft
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell all went in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Auburn has been keeping NFL executives busy since.
Thirty-four Auburn players were drafted from 2005-2014, including two first-rounders last year in Greg Robinson and Dee Ford. The Tigers will add to their overall total in this year's three-day draft that begins Thursday in Chicago.
There's certainly the wildest of wildcards in this year's draft in Nick Marshall, Auburn's record-setting quarterback who turned defensive back for the draft. He could be a late-round draft pick. But the first two off the board, according to a variety of mock drafts, are receiver Sammie Coates and defensive lineman Gabe Wright. NFL.com projects as many as five other former Tigers could be selected as well.
The most likely next to go, according to NFL.com. CBS Sports and ESPN, are running back Cameron Artis-Payne and center Reese Dismukes. Tight end C.J. Uzomah and running back Corey Grant are on the list, as are defensive lineman Angelo Blackson and Robenson Therezie.
Other former Tigers who could get an opportunity as a free agent, according to the national sites, are Trovon Reed, Chad Slade, Jonathon Mincy, Quan Bray, LaDarius Owens, Jeff Whitaker and Forrest Hill.
Here's what NFL execs can find in some of these Tigers:
The big-play wide receiver is leaving after three years at Auburn, taking with him 82 catches for 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had 34 catches for an Auburn-best 741 receiving yards last season. He accomplished things on the field, and off the field, too, with his generosity with hospital visits. That'll earn him some points with NFL execs. He's projected as a second or third-round pick.
The NFL likes his size at 6-foot-3, 284 who leaves Auburn with 86 tackles, including 20½ tackles for a loss. He's projected in a wide range of second to fifth-round pick.
The SEC's leading rusher with 1,600-plus yards is a quiet, no-nonsense guy on and off the field. Here's our earlier story about him and the draft. He heads to the draft much like former Auburn teammate and 1,000-yard rusher Tre Mason, who went in the third round last season. He's projected as a fourth or fifth-round pick.
He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best college center and was a consensus All-American. He started all 50 games of his college career. He's projected as a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Personable tight end who had 39 catches for seven touchdowns in his career. He's projected as a late-round pick.
The running back lit up stop watches at Auburn's Pro Day. He was the complementary back to Mason and Artis-Payne the last two years. He also returned kicks. He rushed for 1,040 yards and nine TDs in four seasons. He's projected as a late-round or priority free agent.
He broke records as Auburn's quarterbacks the last two years, but decided his best chance at the NFL was at defensive back, the position he played his freshman year at Georgia. He showed pro scouts his defensive back skills at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and the draft will target him to play in the secondary. He's projected as a sixth or seventh-round pick.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine