Phillip Marshall: Auburn back in the game in the NFL draft

May 11, 2014

Auburn’s walk through the NFL draft wilderness is over. No longer are the Tigers an afterthought, and they aren’t likely to be again for a long time.

In last year’s draft, defensive end Corey Lemonier was the only Auburn player picked. And he went in the fourth round. Alabama, LSU and other SEC teams basked in the draft spotlight. Auburn did not.

It was different this year. Left tackle Greg Robinson went to the St. Louis Rams with the second pick. Defensive end Dee Ford went to the Kansas City Chiefs with the 23rd pick. Running back Tre Mason went to the Rams in the third round, and fullback Jay Prosch went to the Houston Texans in the sixth round.

Auburn was still well behind Alabama and LSU in numbers, but that will soon change, too. A cursory look at the roster will tell you that Auburn will have a strong presence in the NFL draft next spring and, with the way Gus Malzahn and his staff are recruiting, in springs to come.

More thoughts and impressions after three days of draft-watching:

One can only hope that rising juniors paid attention to what happened in the seven rounds of the 2014 draft. Of the 98 players who gave up eligibility to declare for the draft, 38 went undrafted.

I’ll be very surprised if all four of Auburn’s draftees don’t make their teams. Robinson, Ford and Mason are locks. Prosch is close to being a lock. Even though it was in the sixth round, he was the first fullback chosen.

I’m guessing that some of the seven Tigers who agreed to free agent deals will make teams, too.

I was very surprised that former Auburn cornerback Chris Davis went undrafted. I was equally surprised that quarterbacks Aaron Murray of Georgia and A.J. McCarron of Alabama had to wait until the fifth round to hear their names called.

Thirty-five cornerbacks were chosen. Not only was Davis not one of them, I don’t believe was even mentioned as a possibility. I don’t get it. It’s not size. He’s as tall as a lot of guys who were picked. It’s not speed. It’s not work ethic.

He’s headed for the San Diego Chargers as a free agent. He’ll arrive with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove.

It was a historic and heartwarming moment when the St. Louis Rams announced they had drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round. He most assuredly would have gone higher had he not told the world he is gay.

There were some negativity and there’ll probably be more, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. Former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen took to Twitter to voice his support and admiration for Sam.

One of his tweets:

“A lot of people will unfollow or hate me for my stance but to not draft a person bc of his sexual orientation. That's absurd.”

And another:

“You don't know what @MikeSamFootball stands for until a person you care about has the courage to stand up. Love is love.”

Auburn has had one of the top two players chosen in three of the past 10 drafts. Running back Ronnie Brown was No. 2 in 2005, quarterback Cam Newton was No. 1 in 2011 and Robinson was No. 2 Thursday.

Until next time …

 

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter:

 

 

 

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