As many as eight Tigers could hear their names called in the 2020 NFL Draft. As for who could make an impact in year one, four are ranked among the consensus top-100 prospects likely to go in the first two days.
Let’s take a look…
Derrick Brown, DL
Brown is obviously the best Auburn prospect on the board this year. The 6’5, 318-pound defensive lineman is great against the run, able to pressure the QB as well, and generally causes chaos for opposing offenses even when being held like no man has been held before.
He’s rated #10 overall prospect by CBS Sports, but one mock draft at WalterFootball.com has him going as high as #3 to the Detroit Lions and their leaky defense. The Lions’ Super Bowl 55 odds are some of the worst in the NFL, and Brown would be an immediate contributor to a defensive line that rated 31st against the pass according to FootballOutsiders.com.
But it’s more likely that Brown winds up going 7th overall to the Carolina Panthers. Interior defensive linemen just aren’t as sexy as quarterbacks, edge rushers, and even elite cornerbacks these days. So as good as Brown is, it’s unlikely that any team spends a top-three pick on a DL.
Prince Tega Wanogho, OT
The next Auburn player off the board? Probably Prince Tega Wanogho. The 6’7, 305-pound has all the talent and size to be a top-20 pick given the importance of OTs in the pass-happy NFL.
He’s generally considered a top-10 offensive lineman in this draft, but not a top-five, slotted by most to go in the second round. The highest that (credible) mock drafts have him going is #33 to the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that needs all the O-line help it can get. Others have him landing at #58 with the Vikings.
But, really, Prince could go anywhere, as almost every team in the league could use that type of talent at OT. Which franchise grabs him all depends on which scouting staff is convinced that his talent-upside outweighs any concerns.
Noah Igboghene, CB
Chances are that cornerback Noah Igboghene are up next. Some rankings actually have him ahead of Wanogho – somewhere in the #40-50 overall range – but most have him closer to #75.
In a draft that’s extremely deep at CB, there’s no guarantee that Igboghene goes in the first two rounds, but it would be supremely surprising to see him fall further than the third.
The knocks on Igboghene are that he’s raw and fairly short for today’s NFL. At just 5’11, he could have a hard time matching up with bigger receivers. That said, he’s a stout 200 pounds and there are more and more diminutive slot receivers popping up these days. His size won’t prevent him from being a legit, productive NFL corner.
Like Brown, he’s been mocked to the Panthers, but early in Round 2 (instead of early in Round 1). More recent mock drafts have him heading to the Chiefs later in Round 2.
Marlon Davidson, DE
The last Auburn player rated among the top-100 overall prospects is defensive end Marlon Davidson. Again, there’s a great deal of variation on where he slots in and where he’ll land. He’s rated as high as 48th at DraftSite.com, but closer to about 80th or 90th by most analysts.
Unlike Wanogho and Ogboghene, his physical traits are not considered elite. But his technique and discipline? Lauded. It’s that high-floor, low-ceiling nature that has Davidson generally falling to the back-half of Round 2 to a team like the Falcons. That said, edge rusher is a premium position, and if there’s a run on ends early, Davidson could even sneak into the first round as defensive-needy teams panic.