Scouting the SEC: Auburn 

Faced with high expectations last season the Auburn Tigers fell well short of a BCS invitation, their desired goal. The failure can be directly traced to top defensive players underachieving as well as inconsistent play at quarterback. This season the top players who will carry the team and impact next April's NFL draft reside on the offensive side of the ball.

An explosive ball carrier with outstanding physical skills as well as a running back instincts, Carnell "Cadillac" Williams could well be the first player drafted at his position next year.  Possessing speed, footwork and patience, Williams is a heady ball carrier who sees the field and finds the running lanes.  Displaying a great stutter step, he sets up then freezes defenders, making them miss at the point of attack.  With a slashing style he slides off would-be tackles and picks up extra yardage, not going down without a fight.  Williams possesses both the speed and agility to bounce it around the corner.  While he does not possess the great power he does enough things well to be a feature runner at the next level.  In contrast teammate Ronnie Brown is a powerful straight ahead runner that carries the pile and picks up yardage off initial contact.  Tough to bring down, he is not tackled easily at the point yet is more than a road grader as Brown displays both vision and patience in his running.  Lacking the top footwork, Brown is not an elusive ball carrier or one that shows the ability to immediately cut back against the grain.  This season he will see more time at fullback as a lead blocker, which can only enhance his value at the next level.  With both the physical and mental skills to be a top 60 choice next year, Brown stands to benefit from a good senior season as well as pre-draft workouts.  Quarterback Jason Campbell is an athletic passer with good pocket size.  Quickly setting up to deliver the ball, he throws with an over the top delivery and displays both speed and velocity on his passes.  Possessing the deep arm Campbell can drive the long ball down the field.  Yet with that Campbell does not always make the best decisions and has only marginal accuracy in the vertical game.  He does have the underlying physical skills to be a successful passer at the next level and would greatly enhance his draft potential by improving both his completion percentage and accuracy.  Keep an eye on a Silas Daniels, a receiver with a solid size who flashes ability on occasion.

Defensively the top prospect comes from the ranks of the underclassman while most of the senior potential is of the free agent variety.  Bret Eddins is a hard working lineman who plays with leverage, forward lean and gets underneath opponents.  Lacking the ability to redirect the action, he is easily moved from his angle of attack by opposing fullbacks or tight ends yet his hustle on the football field is sure to endear him to an NFL coach.  Jay Ratliffe is another leverage lineman and a good athlete who makes plays in all directions.  Also undersized, Ratliffe is easily held up in one-on-one blocking or knocked from his angle of attack but has potential at defensive end.  Cornerback Carlos Rogers is a heady cover man with good ball awareness and a defensive back best facing the passer.  Displaying a nice move on the ball, he is quick to locate the pass in the air and displays good timing defending the throw.  Preferring the side shuffle rather than back pedal Rogers does not display  top playing speed (though he runs a 4.40) and would be best loss as a dime back in zone coverage. Safety Junior Rosegreen does a good job reading the run and working with cornerbacks in centerfield yet is a marginal athlete and lacks top ball skills.  Junior linebacker Travis Williams could be a future star.  Possessing top physical skills, Williams breaks  down well, displays excellent sideline-to-sideline range and covers a good amount of area on the field.  Explosive filling gaps in run defense, he squares into tackles and wraps up.  Not decisive or instinctive, Williams is slow to locate the ball and misreads assignments in pass coverage.  Should his mental skills catch up with his physical abilities over the next two years Williams will be a top prospect in 2006.


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