The Auburn Tigers have an intriguing mix of pro prospects who will be eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft. As we discussed yesterday, the prospects on offense (link) are lead by C Reese Dismukes, who could very well be the second center off the board next spring. Who are the top prospects on defense?
We’ll start in the front seven, where DT Gabe Wright and linebackers Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy jump out. Wright shows good potential as a 3-tech in a 4-3, where his quickness and ability to penetrate can be best utilized. Further development from sophomore studs up front in Montravious Adams, Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel will help keep Wright going against mainly single man blocks this fall, which will give him a better opportunity to increase on his 3 sacks from 2013.
Frost split time last year with Jake Holland, but with Holland gone, Frost should be in line for a big jump in production. He’s a very good athlete with a nose for the ball and a knack for making big plays when the Tigers D needs it most. Though only a junior, he has good upside and could see his stock soar with a big season in ’14.
Alongside Frost is McKinzy, a junior with elite size and production. Frost and McKinzy just might be the most talented LB duo in the SEC West, which is saying something. McKinzy has been playing weak side in Auburn’s 4-2, but could project best as strong side in a 4-3, where his size, strength against the run and pass rushing potential can be fully taken advantage of. It’s not outside the realm of reasoning to think he couldn’t play ILB in a 3-4, either.
Now we come to the secondary. Safeties Robenson Therezie and Jermaine Whitehead, along with CB Jonathon Mincy, should be considered the top prospects on the back end. Therezie doesn’t have great size at 5-foot 9, but is strong, athletic and reads routes with efficient results. He reminds me a little bit of Jamarca Sanford coming out of Ole Miss in ’09. Both have similar size and played a hybrid LB/S position in college, and both play bigger than they look. Like Sanford, Therezie should find a home at SS in the NFL.
Whitehead is the QB of the secondary, as he’s a natural leader and makes most of the coverage shifts and reads. He’s overall a very solid prospect who can play both the run and the pass well, especially the latter where he looks like a natural FS at the next level. Finding safeties with range who can truly read and cover are getting harder and harder to find at the next level (seemingly being replaced by the oh-so-common ‘hard hitter’ who headhunts for de-cleating shots across the middle).
Mincy is strong against the run and shows good press cover skills, which are becoming increasingly more popular and bodes well for his stock. Plus, you know he’s got a nose for the ball evidenced by his impressive 14 PBUs. But what will really help his stock will be to turn more of those PBUs into INTs, though.