These meetings will take place at none other than the NFL Scouting Combine, the annual showcase in Indianapolis. The meetings begin today and last through Tuesday. NFL teams will put college players through various physical drills and mental tests. The Tigers’ representatives among the 330 players invited are offensive tackle Greg Robinson, defensive end Dee Ford, running back Tre Mason, cornerback Chris Davis and punter Steven Clark.
None has more to gain than Robinson, who is considered a possible top-five pick in the draft. With a stellar showing at the combine, he could distance himself from his main competition at tackle — Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
Regardless of where Robinson ends up, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is confident his former player will shine in the coming days.
“When we recruited Greg we felt like he was a big-time athlete, really liked his potential. … I think you'll see, once the combine hits, his stock will even go up higher,” Malzahn said. “He's going to really do some amazing things at the combine that will separate himself.”
On Thursday, he measured in at 6-foot-5 and 332 pounds, 12 pounds heavier than he was listed on Auburn’s official roster. He then impressed scouts on Friday by doing 32 repititions on the bench press.
Should he fall out of the top five picks, some projections have him going with the sixth pick to the Atlanta Falcons — sorely in need of pass protectors after allowing quarterback Matt Ryan to get sacked 44 times last season.
The next Auburn player off the board likely will be Ford. Though undersized for a defensive end at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, his explosive first step has moved him up draft boards since end of the BCS Championship Game. Ford's stock rose dramatically after the Senior Bowl, which saw him notch two sacks, a pass deflection and numerous quarterback hurries. That performance helped him capture the game’s MVP award.
Once pegged as a third rounder, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ford selected late in the first round.
“Dee (was) one of our hardest workers and he came so far in a year,” Malzahn said. “He's playing with a lot of confidence. He earns everything he gets, he has that blue-collar mentality. Very proud of him and he'll make somebody a very good, reliable football player that can rush the passer.”
As integral as Ford was to Auburn’s defense, he found his counterpart on offense in Mason, who rushed for a school-record 1,816 yards. His short stature has long been a target of criticism, however, and he did himself no favors Friday. Auburn listed him at 5-foot-10, while he measured in at a shade over 5-foot-8 at the combine.
Given the NFL’s increased emphasis on the passing game, it would cause few ripples if no running backs were taken in the first round. Still, Mason is in the running to be the first one off the board, battling LSU’s Jeremy Hill and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey for the pole position.
Clark is also viewed as arguably the top prospect available at punter. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if no team spends a pick on him, and instead signs him as a free agent.
Davis, who will be forever remembered for his game-winning field goal return in the Iron Bowl, is projected to be taken somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. To improve his stock, he’ll need to show off his speed in the 40-yard dash that teams covet in cornerbacks — and as with every seemingly every other player, his height (Auburn’s roster pegged him at 5-foot-10) will be viewed with a keen eye.
While teams will have a chance how Davis measures up in the height and weight departments, he won’t actually take part in defensive back positional drills until the final day of the combine Tuesday.