Auburn football improved on the field in the 2016 season, and it should see that greater success carry over into the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Tigers haven’t produced a first-round pick in the draft since 2014, when Greg Robinson and Dee Ford took the draft stage in prime time. But that should change in a few months with defensive end Carl Lawson, and defensive tackle Montravius Adams has a chance to crash the first-round party.
With the NFL taking center stage this weekend with the divisional round playoffs, let’s take a look at where five of the biggest draft outlets currently project Lawson, Adams and other outgoing Auburn players.
Mock drafts and prospect rankings are highly fluid, and a lot can change between now and the draft with all-star games, combines and pro days. But before the Senior Bowl and other draft showcases at the end of this moth, here’s where the draft-eligible Tigers currently stand.
Lawson has struggled a bit with injuries over his career, but he is a power-packed edge rusher who could step right in for the Steelers with former first-round pick Jarvis Jones and the great James Harrison in the final year of their respective deals.
Pro Football Focus: No. 17 overall prospect
Sports Illustrated: No. 6 edge rusher
Walter Football: No. 15 outside linebacker (3-4), No. 16 defensive end (3rd-4th round projection)
Montravius Adams is the most underrated defender in this draft class. He’s a big, strong, superathletic defensive lineman with the tools to play tackle or defensive end depending on the defense you’re running.
Playing in an Auburn scheme that asks him to move around the line and to penetrate the offensive line, Adams has been productive and consistently improving throughout the 2016 season.
CBS Sports: No. 102 overall prospect; No. 11 defensive tackle (3rd-4th round projection)
Sports Illustrated: No. 4 defensive tackle
Walter Football: No. 10 defensive tackle (3rd-5th round projection)
Johnathan “Rudy” Ford
Bleacher Report: No. 199 overall prospect; No. 14 safety
CBS Sports: No. 272 overall prospect; No. 11 free safety (7th round-free agent projection)
Walter Football: No. 12 safety (3rd-4th round projection)
CBS Sports: No. 281 overall prospect; No. 18 guard (7th round-free agent projection)
Walter Football: No. 21 guard (5th-7th round projection)
Bleacher Report: No. 326 overall prospect; No. 27 defensive lineman