Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning Quarterback Column: NFL Draft Thoughts, Auburn Recruiting and More

Looking at where Auburn players wound up following the NFL Draft, recruiting and much more.

Jonathan Jones (above) has signed with one of the NFL's most successful teams.

Good Fits For Tigers

Starting with Shon Coleman’s pick by the Cleveland Browns in the second round, just about every Auburn Tigers player drafted or signing as a free agent ended up in a really good position following the weekend. For Coleman it’s a case of jumping onto the depth chart right away.

While the Browns are in good shape with two returning starters, only one other tackle is listed on the final depth chart of 2015. That means an opportunity right away for Coleman to get plenty of reps and show what he can do.

For wide receiver Ricardo Louis the opportunity to help out a struggling Browns receiving corps is there for the taking. With just one receiver catching more than two touchdowns a season ago and most considered possession receivers, his ability to make the big play is something that should help him make the transition to the NFL.

Drafted in the sixth round by the Eagles, Blake Countess looks like a good fit for a Philadelphia defense that has a logjam of cornerbacks. With his versatility, Countess is capable of playing nickel or even safety, and along with being a good special teams player that should earn him a spot on the roster.

One of the best spots for any of the Auburn players belongs to guard Avery Young with the New Orleans Saints. A physical blocker who played tackle out of necessity for the Tigers, Young’s best spot is at guard. He could be a player who challenges for a starting spot before all is said and done.

Going to the New England Patriots, cornerback Jonathan Jones is a good fit for what Coach Bill Belichick is looking for on defense. With his coverage ability and speed, Jones is a true cover corner and compares favorably to another former free agent signing for the Patriots, Malcolm Butler. Coming out of the University West Alabama, I had the chance to see Butler play several times and he was small in stature and played with a chip on his shoulder. That should be the same formula for Jones when he gets to New England this summer.

 

Still Looking On The Offensive Line

Over the weekend Auburn brought in junior college offensive tackle Linwood Foy for an official visit as the Tigers continue to exhaust possibilities to add immediate help up front. Committed to Louisville, Foy is around 6-5, 280 and could be a player to keep an eye on down the road, but nothing is expected to happen with him anytime soon. A midsummer graduate, he has still got several weeks before he needs to make a final decision.

Auburn may not be in the running with him anyway with another 2016 offensive tackle a possibility to visit possibly as early as this coming weekend. The Tigers definitely are looking to add some depth at the offensive tackle position, showing you just how concerned Coach Herb Hand is about his group moving forward.

That was obvious in the spring when he moved Austin Golson to left tackle and inserted Xavier Dampeer at center. When you move your starting center to offensive tackle it definitely shows exactly what Hand felt about his offensive tackle group in the spring.

That also makes five-star Calvin Ashley a must-get in the 2017 class and one of the most important recruits in the last few classes for the Tigers. With the ability to play right away for Auburn, Ashley has the physical tools to make an immediate impact for Hand.

 

Recruiting Ready To Ramp Up

Auburn is expected to announce several sites for satellite camps this week with Atlanta, Miami and possibly Tampa the likely destinations for the Tigers’ staff in June. Before that happens there could be several prospects on Auburn’s board that announce, including four-star linebacker Tadarian Moultry from Jackson-Olin High School.

A powerful player who is only going to continue to get bigger and stronger, Moultry has gained almost 20 pounds in the last year and still looks lean. While there are several schools still pushing hard for the Jackson-Olin standout, this one will be an Auburn-Alabama battle until the end.

 

Turnaround Tigers

While the baseball team showed some signs of life over the weekend with a big series win over No. 22 Kentucky, the improvement of several players has been even more impressive for Coach Butch Thompson’s club. Struggling early in the season, Damon Haecker has turned things up in a big way for the Tigers and has shown how well first-year hitting Coach Doug Sisson can do his job.

Batting just .133 when Auburn opened SEC play against Texas A&M, Haecker has bumped his average all the way up to .288 following a big weekend against Kentucky (6-10). Just 6-45 at the plate to start the year, Haecker has 24 hits in his last 59 at-bats (.407) with 18 RBI.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Damon Haecker and the Tigers will travel to Tuscaloosa this week for a series vs. Alabama.

Melvin Gray started the year hitting just .162 prior to SEC play with six hits in 37 at-bats. Since that time the senior is batting .304 and has scored 14 runs.

There’s no question this Auburn team has had its share of problems with many of them coming defensively, but the Tigers have continued to swing the bat well. If what we’ve seen out of this team is any indication of the future of the offense under Sisson’s guidance it should be fun to watch.


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