Scouting the SEC: Auburn

Can the Tigers challenge for a national title in 2003? Well, the talent is available on both sides of the ball at critical areas. The question is, can they get consistent play at quarterback? AU will put a lot of players into the first two rounds of next April's draft.

Offensively, the Tigers could have the best one-two punch at running back in the nation. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams is an explosive ball carrier brought down only by injury last season. He has outstanding vision, instincts and the footwork to slide off tackles then set defenders up, leaving them grasping at air. Williams can run on the inside yet has the speed to get around tackle into the open field. He needs a full healthy season to prove durability to scouts but the skills to be a top 45 prospect, if not higher, are apparent. 

Teammate Ronnie Brown literally took the ball and ran with it when Williams went down in the middle of the season. Brown does not have the same quickness compared to Williams nor is he a slasher, rather another back with vision, best on the interior. Brown works his runs and gets every last bit of yardage each time he takes a hand-off. He has first day potential when he enters the draft. 

Blocking for the pair is Brandon Johnson, a hard working fullback but limited athlete with minimal potential. Likewise, tackle Mark Pera plays with good football intelligence but does not possesse the great range or feet to block the edge at the next level. He could backup on the inside. 

Monreko Crittenden, a huge lineman, engulfs defenders from his guard position or drives them off the line. Though he flashes skills, Crittenden is overweight and not properly conditioned. He lacks balance and body control, which hurts every aspect of his game. The skills are available to Crittenden if he puts forth the effort every snap of the game.

The top talents lay on defense, starting with a pair of outstanding linebackers. Had Karlos Dansby left for the NFL after his junior season he would've been the first linebacker drafted last April. A force since his sophomore campaign, Dansby is explosive, athletic, yet intelligent and a defender with good instincts. He displays good range in pass coverage and a head for the ball, always playing disciplined football and staying with assignments. Dansby could very well be a top 15 choice in 2004 with semi-decent workouts prior to the draft. (Dansby was actually a partial qualifier in 2000 and could potentially return to The Plains for another season in ‘04). 

Dontarrious Thomas is a bit more forceful and stronger on the field, yet also displays good range. Thomas leaves a trail of blockers in his wake getting to the action and easily brings ball carriers down at the point. What he lacks in comparison to Dansby is upstairs, as his instincts are not as fine-tuned and Thomas shows some hesitation to his game. His skill warrants a top 60 selection. 

We've watched and liked DeMarco McNeil since his sophomore year. A lineman with great explosion, McNeil has great first step quickness and gets a lot of push up the field. A stuffer in the middle against the run, he's only an average pass rusher and never really elevated his game after 2000.

 In many ways Spencer Johnson is a lesser version of former Penn State tackle Anthony Adams - quick, explosive, yet undersized. Johnson works to make plays but may be best suited as a backup. 

End Reggie Torbor is a tall, thin pass rusher with great quickness off the edge and the ability to make plays in all directions. Torbor is a classic ‘tweener for the next level, small for the defensive line yet slow for linebacker.

 Safety Junior Rosegreen is a hard-hitting defender good against the run and adequate covering the pass. He lacks the great size for strong safety and may not be good enough in coverage to be considered in nickel packages.

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