6. Alex Kozan
Why he’s here: The catalyst of Auburn’s excellent offensive line play this season, Alex Kozan racked up All-SEC honors and even an All-American nod in his senior season on the Plains.
At left guard, Kozan often sprung big plays on the ground for the Tigers as a pulling offensive lineman. Auburn dominated opponents on the right side of the line this season, and Kozan did his part by using his athleticism to slide over and make key blocks for explosive gains.
Kozan missed all of the 2014 season with a back injury. Last season, he wasn’t quite at the level he was as a freshman All-American in 2013. But Kozan turned back the clock at a perfect time for Auburn. He was the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week after leading Auburn to a 56-3 rout of Arkansas.
“I think to some degree he’s as steady as he was (in 2013),” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said in October. “He’s healthy. I think that plays a big part in it. He was able to play last year but from a strength standpoint he wasn’t what he had been. He’s been a really good leader for us… he brings some consistency to that side, and he’s been really solid for us.”
Auburn shuffled its starting offensive line in the middle of the season after left tackle Austin Golson moved to center following an injury to center Xavier Dampeer. As the Tigers broke in Darius James at left tackle, Kozan was crucial in helping that transition, especially in the area of pass protection.
“I think every offensive line in the country plays better toward the end of the season than they do in the beginning of the season just because you have more cohesion, more communication,” Kozan said. “And you can really work with the guys next to you better the more snaps you play together.”
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 23, 2016
Stanton Truitt's 4th quarter TD comes with an unbalanced 6-man line (Tucker Brown at "TE"). Alex Kozan and Braden Smith pave the way here. pic.twitter.com/qzy3V361C7
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 24, 2016
Season stats: 12 starts, giving him 39 starts in his Auburn career
Next season: Kozan will be off to the NFL next season, as he’s used up all of his eligibility at Auburn. The Colorado native, while one of the most decorated offensive guards in college football, doesn’t exactly grade out as a high-value NFL prospect at the moment. Offensive guard isn’t as valuable as other positions in the draft, and he’s currently projected to be a late-round pick. Pro day and the combine will be big for him.
Top 10 Auburn football players
No. 10: DE Marlon Davidson
No. 9: RB Kerryon Johnson
No. 8: QB Sean White
No. 7: LB Deshaun Davis
No. 6: OG Alex Kozan