DDayThe NFL’s Draft Day hasn’t meant much to the Auburn Tigers over the last few years. That should change in a significant way today. 

Since setting an SEC record with four players (Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell) going in the first round of the 2005 selections, Auburn’s impact on the top half of the draft was relatively consistent until the last three years. 

Tackle Marcus McNeill was a second round pick in 2006, Ben Grubbs was chosen in the first and Kenny Irons went in the second round of the 2007 draft, Quentin Groves and Pat Lee earned second round picks in 2008, Sen’Derrick Marks  was selected in the second round in 2009 and Ben Tate was a second round choice in 2010.  The 2011 draft saw Cam Newton selected first overall and Nick Fairley join him as a first round pick. 

A total of 28 players from Auburn were selected in the draft from 2006 to 2011, an average of nearly five per season. 

Then the drought. 

Since Newton and Fairley went in the first (and Lee Ziemba and Zach Clayton in the seventh) round of the 2011 draft, just two Tigers have heard their name called on any day of the draft since.  Tackle Brandon Moseley was a fourth round pick in 2012 and Corey Lemonier went in the third round in 2013.  

When the draft concludes this weekend, Auburn should return to draft day form with a handful of potentially high draft picks and an assortment of other players with a chance to be picked up over the entire seven rounds. 

Credit head coach Gus Malzahn.  Coach Malzahn has brought a new work ethic and a new attitude to the Loveliest Village on the Plains. The fruits of his effort will be evident  during the 2014 Draft.  

Many experts project offensive tackle Greg Robinson could be taken as early as the second pick tonight by the Rams.  There is an outside chance that he could be the first overall pick.  That’s an amazing transformation for a player who wasn’t high on the NFL radar prior to the 2013 season. 

Defensive end Dee Ford impressed scouts with his performance on the field and at tryouts and he could potentially be a late first round pick.  

Running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason is projected to be a likely second round pick. 

Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis is projected as a possible fourth round pick. 

Fullback Jay Prosch and kicking specialists Cody Parkey and Steven Clark also have a chance to be picked up before the final selections are made.  All are almost certain to get free agent invites if they are not picked up during the draft. 

Draft day excitement and speculation at Auburn is a far cry from the drought of the past two draft days. It’s a testament to the values and work ethic being instilled by Malzahn and his staff. It also proves that there is more than one path to the NFL. Quality players will thrive when exposed to quality coaching and a positive environment, regardless of what scheme is installed. 

In another Draft Day positive for Auburn, offensive tackle Shon Coleman will announce a first round pick.

Coleman signed with Auburn in February 2010, but before he got to campus, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Coleman spent much of the next three years in a hospital undergoing chemotherapy rather than making his mark on the football field. 

Coleman fought through the difficult years and was eventually cleared to play late in 2012. He returned to the field in 2013 against Arkansas State and is currently the leader to replace potential first round pick Greg Robinson as a starter on the Tiger offensive line. 

During Coleman’s courageous struggle with cancer, the Auburn football team and the Auburn family never gave up.  There were no medical scholarships and Coleman wasn’t processed. His place on the Auburn roster was held open for his return. 

On behalf of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and NFL PLAY 60, Coleman and his mother, DeKeisha, will join commissioner Roger Goodell to announce a pick during Thursday’s first round. 

“For them to give me this opportunity is a blessing,” Coleman told AuburnTigers.com. “It’s very exciting. People are going to see my story.”  

If Coleman continues to progress with the courage and tenacity he has shown to get himself back to this point in his career, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to imagine him a few years from now walking back onto the stage as he hears his own name called. 

It’s a new day at Auburn. We hope this is only the beginning.

 

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