As part of Hogs Haven’s pre-draft coverage, I am going to preview one team per week (either Friday or Saturday) throughout the college football season. One of the biggest games this week will be a battle between Oregon and Auburn. If watching this Saturday showdown, here are some of the Auburn players to watch.
POTENTIAL FIRST ROUND PROSPECTS
#5 Derrick Brown (Sr.) DT 6’5/318
Brown came to Auburn as a Top-10 prospect (by some high school recruiting rankings), and could leave as a Top-10 NFL draft pick.
He became an immediate contributor as a true freshman, and a full-time started by his second season. After a pair of dominating seasons, Brown surprised many who thought he would declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. He elected to return and is set to graduate in December. He has plans beyond football, and this year, he’ll serve as the president of Auburn’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
“I believe that athletes have more of a platform than what they’re given credit for,” Brown said. “Some people just say, ‘Yeah, they’re just football players,’ but I know a lot more than the average guy, and I‘m here to be able show that and just try to set a different example for young guys coming up and even the guys the same age as me or older than me. Just being able to show that we can do more than just football.”
Going into his senior season, he has recorded 115 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick.
With 34 total defensive stops last season, Derrick Brown is the leading returning interior defensive lineman in the SEC.
Derrick Brown is returning for his senior year at Auburn after an impressive junior year. pic.twitter.com/kvbmi4YLgC— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 3, 2019
ProFootball Focus ranked Brown #18 in the pre-season Top-50, and draft analyst Tony Pauline also gave him a first round grade over the summer.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler believes Brown is not only the No. 1 interior lineman prospect in the 2020 NFL draft, but also a top-10 prospect overall. He wrote “Few defensive tackles have the diverse skills to handle double teams as a nose, but also move outside and rush off the edge.”
According to WalterFootball, some NFL scouts feel that if Brown had entered the 2019 NFL Draft, he would have been drafted ahead of Ed Oliver (Pk#9) and Christian Wilkins (Pk#13).
The question for guys with his body type is can he disrupt the passing game. Brown tends to stand straight up out of his stance, doesn’t always quickly disengage from blocks, and doesn't have many pass rush moves beyond a bull rush.
Brown has a rare skill set with his size, quickness, and agility. He is incredibly strong, having set a school record when he squatted 590 pounds last year, and he benches more than 400 pounds.
With a prospect of this caliber, often the motor does not match the traits, but Brown has a high motor, is quick off the snap, and transfers his speed to power very well. If he stays healthy and consistent as a senior, many believe that he could be a top-10 pick next April.
#76, Prince Tega Wanogho, (Red-Shirt Senior) OT, 6’7/315
Going into his final season, Price Tega Wanogho has appeared in 36 games with 20 starts, but is still relatively new to the game of football after moving from Nigeria to Alabama in high school. Wanogho came to Alabama with the hope of landing a college basketball scholarship, and first started playing football in 2014 — as a defensive end.
After Wanogho redshirted in 2015, while recovering from breaking a leg in a high school basketball game and, Auburn moved him to the offensive line.
Despite zero experience on offense until the 2016 summer camp Wanogho entered the 2017 season as Auburn’s starting left tackle. His initiation to SEC football came with some growing pains. First, he was part of the offensive line that allowed Clemson to sack Jarrett Stidham 11 times in Week 2, then he gave up the game-clinching sack to Arden Key in Auburn’s loss to LSU.
For more on his backstory, reading ESPN’s The incredible journey of Auburn’s Prince Tega Wanogho.
Now a fifth, year senior, Wanogho has gained 50 pounds since he first came to Auburn, while maintaining a great deal of athleticism. A member of Bruce Feldman’s Freaks’ List, Auburn strength coach Ryan Russell told Feldman “He came in at 260 and is consistently 310-315 now without losing speed, agility or capability.” He reportedly bench presses 415 pounds, squats 560, has a 32 inch vertical, and clocked a 4.95 second 40 time this over the off-season.
Recently, Wanogho came in at No. 31 in Todd McShay’s rankings, which matched where Pro Football Focus ranked him in their own pre-season big board, adding “On 159 more pass-blocking snaps, Tega Wanogho allowed six fewer pressures in 2018 (13) than he did in 2017 (19).”
Prince Tega Wanogho returns to Auburn as one of the best pass-blockers at the FBS level. pic.twitter.com/cNNj5Sthrn— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 3, 2019
Wanogho is tremendous prospect from a height/weight/speed standpoint, but so too was Auburn’s last first round offensive lineman — Greg Robinson, who became a bust in the NFL despite ideal (and similar) measurables.
Now entering his fifth year with the program, PTW has matured as a player, and has a legitimate shot at being a top-50 pick in the NFL Draft next year.
POSSIBLE DAY TWO (ROUNDS 2-3) PROSPECTS
None seem likely at this time, but there are about five who could break into the top-100 with a good season.
LIKELY DAY THREE (ROUNDS 4-5) PROSPECTS
#13 Javaris Davis (RS-Sr.) CB, 5’10/180.
Entering the 2019 season, Davis has appeared in 36 games with 28 starts.
A two sport athlete, who also runs track, Davis reportedly ran a 4.24 second 40 during spring testing. He shows the ability to mirror receivers in coverage and click n close once the ball is in the air.
Javaris Davis is a player to watch in the SEC. pic.twitter.com/5VG7NVGm37— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 31, 2019
Has NFL bloodlines. cousin of Redskins’ TE Vernon Davis and former NFL corner Vontae Davis. Slightly overaged, Davis will be 23 years old by draft day.
Davis’s outstanding speed and quickness will likely be enough to get him drafted, and he should be one of the favorites to run the fastest 40 time at the NFL Combine. However, he is undersized and isn’t likely to get much bigger. Additionally, he does not appear to have the arm length to compensate for his lack of height. Due to his size, Davis will likely be viewed as a nickel corner only by most NFL teams.
#4 Noah Igbinoghene (Jr.) CB/KR, 5’11/200.
It is possible Auburn might have the fastest pair of corners in college football. Igbinoghere is an outstanding athlete, whose mother and father were Olympic track athletes. Noah himself, is an accomplished track athlete, who has competed on Auburn’s track team in both the triple-jump and long jump.
For those of you who subscribe to The Athletic, they did an excellent look into his backstory HERE.
Igbinoghere played receiver and kick-off return specialist as a freshman, (six catches for just 24 yards) before converging to corner for the 2018 season. He still finished the season as Auburn’s team leader in pass breakups (11) while also posting the fifth-most tackles (50) in his first season on defense.
For what it’s worth, the SEC-centric website, Saturday Down South did not include Igbinoghene in their pre-season list of Top-10 cornerbacks in the SEC.
Going into his 3rd season, he has appeared in 27 games with 9 starts, and is expected to be Auburn’s #1 corner. Still new to the position, I feel he could break into the Top-100 selections if he continues to refine his technique.
#71 Jack Driscoll (RS-Sr.) RT, 6’5/296.
Driscoll came to Auburn as a graduate transfer after two seasons at the University of Massachusetts. Going into the 2019 season, Driscoll has already made 32 starts (20 at UMass), with experience at LT, LG and RT.
Cover1’s Christian Page is impressed with both his kick slide and says repositioning his hands throughout the play enable him to stay balanced and square to his opponent.
ProFootballNetwork.com’s lead draft analyst Tony Pauline gave Driscoll a Rd3 grade and writes, “Driscoll is not the athlete Wanogho is, but he’s a technically sound and nasty blocker who can play multiple positions on the Auburn offensive line. If he can continue to refine his technique, he’ll be in the mix on the second day of the draft.”
Probably a good athlete to remain at tackle in the NFL, but probably projects as a “swing tackle”, back-up role.
#91 Nick Coe (RS-Jr.) DE/DT, 6’5/291
The versatile defensive lineman has appeared in 25 games with 10 starts, with experience at different spots along the line, including lining up at OLB (Buck), defensive tackle and defensive end.
Here he is mostly going against former Mississippi LT Greg Little:
Despite leading Auburn in sacks, with seven last season, Coe is not much of a pass-rusher on the edge, and probably is best suited for DT in a 4-3 or at DE in a 3-4 in the NFL.
With another strong season, he could end up breaking into the Top-100 next April.
#3 Marlon Davidson (Sr.) DE 6-3 278.
With 39 career starts entering his final season, Davidson has started every game of his Auburn career. Highly experienced prospect, who has lined up as a stand up OLB (Buck), and at DE and DT in a 4-3, but size wise, he’s a bit of a tweener.
Over the summer, draft analyst Tony Pauline stamped Davidson with a Rd5 grade over the summer. Not as big and explosive as Coe, Davidson looks unlikely to break into the Top-100.
LIKELY LATE DAY THREE (ROUNDS 6-7) OR UDFA PROSPECTS
#77 Marquel Harrell (rSr.) LG 6’3/309.
Entering his fifth and final season, Harrell has appeared in 30 games with 19 starts.
An average sized guard prospect who is a pretty effective pass blocker despite playing in a run-heavy offense.
Last season Marquel Harrell played a whopping 428 pass-blocking snaps and only allowed 5 (FIVE!) quarterback pressures. pic.twitter.com/enNFr6yqJa— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 18, 2019
#1 Markaviest “Big Kat” Bryant (Jr.) OLB/DE 6’5/247.
Bryant came to Auburn as a 4-Star HS recruit, but thus far has appeared in 25 games with just 3 starts.
A cousin of former Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams, with his frame and athletic traits, Bryant would be draftable even as a rotational player, but if he were to return for his senior season, and secure a starting role, his draft stock should climb into the mid-rounds.
#24 Daniel Thomas (Sr.) SS 5’11/209.
Has appeared in 38 games with 14 starts.
#20 Jeremiah Dinson (RS-Sr.) S/CB 6’0/191. UDFA. (UDFA Pauline)
Has appeared in 36 games with experience at CB, NCB, FS and SS.
Dinson has a troubling injury history, including a dislocated left knee, three torn ligaments in his left knee as well as a dislocated left shoulder in 2015. He required a medical redshirt in 2016 season while recovering from two separate surgeries. Suffered a right shoulder injury during Auburn’s spring game in April of 2018 that required surgery.
NFL bloodlines. His cousin Randell Johnson plays for the Buffalo Bills.
#54 Kaleb Kim (6-’4/300, Center) and #64 Mike Horton (6’4/325, Guard) ...
are a pair of Red-Shirt Seniors, who appear to be the weak links in the Tigers’ offensive line. Each appear to be long shots to get drafted.
#28 JaTarvious “Boobee” Whitlow (RS-So.) RB 6’0/210.
Enters his third season with just 150 carries, 787 yards and 6 TD’s and 15 catches, 173 yards and 2 TD’s, but appears to be a pretty good athlete with upside. A HS track star, Whitlow was a state champion in four events (the long jump, triple jump, 200 meters and 400 meters.)
#9 Kam Martin (Sr.) RB 5’10/195.
Likely viewed as a priority free agent, Martin has appeared in 35 games but with just 6 starts. Has somewhat ordinary traits for the position, and will likely be the second runner in Auburn’s timeshare at RB.
OTHERS: Will Hastings, WR (RS-Sr). and Eli Stove, WR, (RS-Jr.)
Productive earlier in their respective careers’ each have been limited while returning from ACL surgery and their market share in the Auburn offense is not expected to be very high.