After his coming out party that really shouldn’t have been a coming out party, Tre Mason is now the hottest name in college football, and among possible 2014 NFL Draft prospects. As a junior, Mason still has not decided if he will return for his senior season at Auburn, and likely won’t until after the BCS National Championship Game, in which he will have the opportunity to make his draft stock skyrocket even more. But because of his height (5-foot-10), he’ll likely be overlooked early next May if he declares for the draft, which means one lucky (or smart) team will make out like a bandit with Mason in its backfield for the next decade.
Some stock can be put into the height of an NFL running back, but Mason’s heigh is perfect compared to all-time greats like Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. In fact, he’s less than one inch shorter than Tony Dorsett, to whom he’s been most often compared in NFL skill set.
A slashing runner, Mason is lightning quick and can stop, change directions and be back to full speed in one step, which is something that makes pro scouts drool. He finds open holes in the offensive line well and his already solid patience with blocking will only increase with NFL coaching.
For numbers junkies, that’s proven by Mason’s career 5.8 yards-per-carry average on 482 attempts in his three years at Auburn. The same holds true for the Tigers’ top-ranked rushing attack, led by Mason’s 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns this year. And the icing on the cake was the 303 yards and four scores Mason put on the board on 46 carries in the SEC Championship Game. Put simply, running backs don’t run the ball 46 times in a game very often. Even in the good old days of workhorse running backs, anything above 35 was still considered a rarity. But in today’s pass-happy era, you can forget about it. Mason is one of the last of a dying breed and he’ll be a steal in the third or fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, if he decides to declare, which he should.