Here’s a look at some of the top senior prospects coming out of Auburn University:
Dee Ford, DE/LB Auburn: Ford is an athletically talented pass rushing specialist who possesses an explosive first step. He is a fierce edge rusher with exceptional speed and power to get around tackles. Ford uses his long arms and active hands to fight off blocks. He beats offensive tackles with speed, quickness and strength. He consistently gets pressure in the pocket.
Auburn has specific schemes for him to rush the QB from a three-point stance, as well as the two-point stance standing up. He looks confortable rushing from the two-point stance, which is his projected position at the NFL level in a 3-4 defense as an OLB. Ford will need to adjust to dropping back in coverage and also playing in space.
He rushes too far up the field at times, which takes him out of the play on running plays. Overall, scouts are excited about his upside and athleticism at the next level. Ford is still a raw player and will need to land with the right NFL team that could groom him into a starter.
Chris Davis, CB Auburn: Davis is an aggressive and physical cornerback who was a three-year starter in the Auburn secondary. He is an underrated player who makes plays around the ball and is Auburn’s best coverman. Davis was the team’s second-leading tackler and he really stepped up his play this year in coverage with 15 PDs.
He comes up strong in run support and fights through blocks to make tackles. I have been impressed with his man coverage skills and his ability to make some nice breaks on passes thrown his way. He shows the speed to run with receivers, with a smooth backpedal and the ability to change direction. Davis is also a dynamic punt returner, who ran back a kick for 85 yards this season.
He is undersized at 5-foot-10, which is a concern for scouts. Some think he may be better suited as a safety at the next level because of his aggressive style of play. He is also a little too aggressive at times and will bite on fakes and play action, causing him to blow some coverage assignments. I believe that Davis has the tools to be a productive third or fourth defensive back along with the ability to serve as a nickel corner. His combination of speed and athleticism, along with his production and return skills has him projected as a 4th-6th round draft prospect.
Jay Prosch, FB Auburn: The Illinois transfer is an athletic freak of nature who possesses incredible size and speed at the fullback position. He is a hard-nosed football player that punishes defenders with his physical blocks and opens up running lanes for RB Tre Mason. Prosch was primarily used in Auburn’s pro-style offense, but he occasionally lined up in their spread option split backfield set as well. He shows soft hands and is also a technically sound blocker in pass protection when picking up blitzes.
Prosch has great speed for a guy his size and runs in the high 4.5’s to low 4.6’s in the 40. Scouts are impressed with his size, strength, speed, versatility and value as a standout special teamer. Prosch is projected to be the first fullback taken off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft, likely between the 5th and 6th round.
*For more NFL Draft analysis from Taber Small, check out his blog NFL Draft Talent Evaluator.