High Hopes For Tigers In NFL Draft

Auburn has a large group of players looking to get a good word in this weekend's NFL Draft.

Last season the Auburn Tigers had four players selected in the first round and five overall in the National Football League Draft to be the talk of the league for the two days surrounding the festivities in New York City.

While this year won't be quite as exciting from the Auburn perspective, the program could be sending a large group of players to the next level with one player hoping to be selected into the first round.

A first-team All-American and finalist for the Outland Trophy, big Marcus McNeill accomplished almost everything an offensive lineman could hope for in his four years on the Plains.

A dominating left tackle who did not allow a sack in his final 42 games, McNeill has great quickness at the point of attack and his overwhelming size gives him a chance against anyone that lines up across from him.

Despite not missing a practice because of injury his last two seasons, questions still linger about a back problem that bothered him his first two years at Auburn. Because of that his stock has fallen recently in the eyes of some analysts with D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Winston Justice and Eric Winston expected to be the first tackles off the board. Don't be surprised if McNeill makes his way into the bottom of the first round, although a second round selection is more than likely where McNeill winds up. Prediction: Second Round

A player many thought was making a mistake by declaring for the draft, defensive end Stanley McClover impressed a lot of scouts at the NFL Combine and only added to his reputation with a strong effort on Auburn's Pro Day. Despite being hobbled part of the season with a hamstring strain, McClover led the Tigers with eight sacks and also had 13 1/2 tackles for a loss.

McClover runs a drill during pro day in Auburn.

With his combination of size and speed, McClover could play outside linebacker or defensive end on the next level. Because of that his stock has risen to the point where he could possibly be a second round selection if he falls to the right team. Prediction: Third Round

Speedster Devin Aromashodu could be the next Tiger taken by a NFL team because of his ability to stretch the field and make big plays. As a senior the 200-pounder with 4.4 speed caught 26 passes for 494 yards and four touchdowns.

His 19.0 yards per catch average was more than six yards better than any Tiger with at least 20 catches in 2005. Add in his ability to return kickoffs and you have an interesting prospect for NFL teams. Prediction: Rounds 3-5

Devin Aromashodu works out for the NFL scouts.

Interesting is what you call big Anthony Mix. A 240-pound receiver with good speed and excellent hands, Mix never really showed his true talents while at Auburn except on very rare occasions. In 2005 Mix was third on the team with 23 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. He showed in workouts that he has the quickness to separate on the next level and that should get him selected somewhere in the middle of the draft. Prediction: Rounds 3-6

Auburn's second offensive lineman is expected off the board somewhere in the middle to late rounds as well as tackle Troy Reddick should find a new home because of his strength at the point of attack. Expected to play guard in the NFL, the 330-pounder played in 44 games in his Auburn career and earned him honorable mention All-SEC honors. Prediction: Rounds 4-7

Ben Obomanu made big plays for the Tigers throughout his college career.

Wide receiver Ben Obomanu leaves Auburn as one of the program's top wide receivers following four solid years for the Tigers. He finished his career with 18 career touchdown catches, good for second all-time at Auburn behind Terry Beasley.

As a senior, Obomanu caught 33 passes for 357 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. Despite running a solid 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, questions about his route running have him falling somewhere in the middle to late rounds of the NFL Draft. Prediction: Rounds 4-7

Cooper Wallace showed his stuff for the pro scouts at Auburn.

One of the toughest positions to make a splash in the NFL is at tight end and that's the problem facing Cooper Wallace in this year's draft. With standouts such as Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis and Leonard Pope at the top of the list, the chance to stand out to NFL teams is tough for Wallace.

Showing very good blocking skills and the ability to line up at fullback in addition to his duties at tight end, Wallace presents teams with several different options. As a senior he caught 20 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown in 2005. Prediction 6th Round to Free Agent

Doing everything pro scouts asked of him following a productive season for the Tigers at middle linebacker, Travis Williams is looking for a shot to prove he can play in the NFL. Second on the team with 68 tackles in 2005, Williams will likely play outside on the next level because of his lack of size.

Travis Williams was a very productive linebacker for the Tigers.

Weighing in at just over 220 pounds on Pro Day, Travis Williams showed he can carry the weight necessary to handle the punishment he'll face against NFL running backs and offensive linemen. A hard worker and smart football player, Williams will be a player to watch for late in the proceedings. Prediction: 6th Round to Free Agent

Just like Williams, noseguard Tommy Jackson is forced to fight the size issue despite proving himself while at Auburn. At just over 6-0 tall, Jackson isn't the prototypical defensive tackle in the NFL and that will likely push him to the end of the draft if taken at all. As a senior T.J. made 41 tackles with two sacks and five and a half tackles for a loss. Prediction: 7th Round to Free Agent

One player wjp is looking for a chance to prove himself to a NFL team is fullback Jake Slaughter. Weighing in at over 240 pounds on Auburn's Pro Day, Slaughter caught the ball well out of the backfield in drills which is the main thing NFL scouts want to see out of fullbacks. A proven lead blocker, Slaughter will likely have to earn his way onto a NFL team through free agency.

Kevin Hobbs walked on at Auburn would like to keep on moving toward the NFL.

A player who helped himself as much as anyone at Auburn's Pro Day was defensive back Kevin Hobbs. Finishing with just 24 tackles and three passes broken up as a senior from his backup free safety role, Hobbs broke 4.4 in the 40-yard dash for NFL Scouts while showing the ability to play the football in the air. While it probably won't be enough to get him drafted he'll likely earn a free agent deal for someone looking for a playmaker in the secondary.

Another senior who could get a shot at the NFL as a free agent is speedy but undersized outside linebacker Antarrious Williams who is long on athletic ability but short on physical size. Defensive lineman Wayne Dickens is another senior who is hoping to get a shot with an NFL team.

The draft gets started Saturday at 11 a.m. CDT on ESPN and will carry on into the night. Sunday the draft resumes until the seventh and final round is complete.


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