The Auburn Tigers travel to Athens, Georgia today, looking for revenge for last season’s defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs. After a slow but winning start in their season opener against Kentucky, can the Tigers cause an upset against a Georgia team that faced their own difficulties in overcoming Arkansas? Who are the Auburn football draft prospects who could make the difference this evening?
After two consecutive NFL Draft classes where the Tigers had six players selected, the list of Auburn football draft prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t run quite as long or contain the same depth as the 2020 class, especially when you consider their 2020 class had two Auburn players selected in the first round.
Despite this, several Auburn prospects can be difference-makers in the game against Georgia today.[sv slug=mocksim]
Auburn football draft prospects to watch Saturday
WR Seth Williams
The Tigers don’t have a rich history of sending wide receivers to the NFL, with Tim Carter’s second-round selection in the 2002 NFL Draft being the highest pick at the position in the 21st century. However, Seth Williams may well be the best of the Auburn draft prospects on show against Georgia. He is already proven himself to be a game-changer this season.
Williams had a stellar start to the season in the opener against Kentucky, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, and securing two vital touchdowns in the second half to help the Tigers pull away from the Wildcats. It’s hardly surprising that it would be Williams to lead the way. He was the most potent receiving option in 2019 as a sophomore.
As I wrote back in July when mentioning him as an ideal target for the Cam Newton led New England Patriots, at 6’3″, 211 pounds, Williams combines ideal size at the wide receiver position, with the attributes that lead to receiving success in the NFL.
“Williams possesses the ideal size and weight to be a true WR1 in the NFL. He has good hands and has shown so far in his Auburn career that he can snag the ball in traffic. He shows body control and composure.”
Georgia will be fully aware of his abilities after torching them to the tune of 121 yards last season.
Although it is another great class of wide receivers in 2021, there is no reason why Williams can’t figure towards the top of it. Another standout performance in front of a national audience in one of the biggest college football games of the weekend will work wonders for his stock.
WR Anthony Schwartz
At 6’0″ and 179 pounds, Anthony Schwartz may not have the size and build that Williams brings to the Auburn offense, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in speed. The second of the Auburn draft prospects on show against Georgia this evening is a genuine speedster who runs track in addition to playing football for the Tigers.
How fast is he? Well, Schwartz still holds the Boys World Youth Bests record for the 100 meters, setting a 10.15 time as an under-18 back in 2017. That’s how fast.
Although Schwartz has seen limited production in the Auburn offense compared to Williams – he has just three touchdowns and 797 yards coming into 2020 – he is still a uniquely versatile offensive threat. His speed can be used to devastating effect in multiple ways, including on jet sweeps and out of the backfield.
With positional versatility and athletic ability increasingly important in the NFL, Schwartz could see his stock soar with an impressive season for the Tigers. If he is invited to the 2021 NFL Combine, there is every chance he blows away the opposition and potentially breaks the current 40-yard dash record, further enhancing his NFL Draft stock.
Both Schwartz and Williams face a strong Georgia secondary that will provide a real test of their abilities. A sensational showing, and an Auburn offensive explosion, will thrust the wide receiver duo into the national spotlight.
DE Big Kat Bryant
The 2020 NFL Draft decimated the Auburn defensive line. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown was the seventh overall pick of the Carolina Panthers, while fellow defensive lineman Marlon Davidson was the second-round selection of the Atlanta Falcons. Although Nick Coe went undrafted, he was picked up as a free agent by the Patriots before landing on the Miami Dolphins.
That is a big chunk of your defensive line to lose. Thankfully, the delightfully named Big Kat Bryant is a big chunk of man and will be the senior leader on the defensive line this season. Although this will be his first season as a regular starter, the 6’5″ 250-pound defensive end is the most experienced presence on the line and has had a productive career at Auburn.
The former SEC All-Freshman has 40 career tackles, 7 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles, while also contributing in coverage with 6 passes defended and an interception returned for a touchdown against Purdue in 2018.
Bryant is stout against the run and has shown an ability to get after the quarterback. He will need to show that he can win more consistently off the edge if he is to be one of the Auburn prospects that hears their name called early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Currently, Bryant is projected to be a mid to late-round selection.
CB Christian Tutt
Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and several cornerbacks could be potential Auburn draft prospects come April next year.
Both Smoke Monday, another delightfully named Auburn player, and Roger McCreary are players who are receiving attention early in the draft cycle. McCreary led the team in passes defended last season and secured his second career interception in the season opener against Kentucky last week. McCreary and Monday fit in that 6’0″ – 6’2″ range that NFL teams covet at the cornerback position.
Although Christian Tutt checks in at just 5’11” and 192 pounds, lacking size compared to the other two, there is plenty to like about his game. Tutt also brings versatility and attitude to the field, giving him a slight edge over his two teammates in the defensive back room.
In his first season as a starter in 2019, Tutt had two interceptions, and two passes defended. He also showed his competency as a tackler, with 31 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and a forced fumble.
From a versatility standpoint, Tutt acts as a punt returner for the Tigers, returning for 313 yards at 13.6 yards per return. Coaches rave about his quick feet, enabling him to be an elusive returner and help contribute to his success as a defensive back.
Coaches also rave about his “can cover anyone” attitude. This will face a stern test today against a Georgia offense that contains one of the best wide receivers in the nation in George Pickens.
Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and NFL analytics contributor for the Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.