While Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson made wise and profitable choices by deciding to return for their senior seasons as Auburn football players, just one of their two junior teammates who entered the 2020 NFL Draft made smart moves by checking out early.
Noah Igbinoghene, a junior who was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings with the 30th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, is a prospect who earned plenty of attention from pro scouts. If the Vikings hadn’t drafted him the cornerback would have likely gone later in round one or early in round two to another team. His size and athletic ability had a lot to do with that, but so did an outstanding work ethic along with a team-first attitude.
Defensive end Nick Coe has been blessed with an impressive body and plenty of athletic ability, too, but a sloppy 2019 performance cost him financially in a big way. A prospect considered a potential first or second round draft pick going into his junior season, he didn’t get the job done on the field and left his team prior to the bowl game. Coe had nobody to blame other than himself when no NFL team was willing to invest a draft pick after the way he played last fall.
It isn’t a total loss just yet for Coe, who has a chance to make the roster of the New England Patriots as a free agent. However, if that happens what he earns will be a small fraction of the salary/bonus money he could have commanded as an early round draft pick.
In contrast to Coe, fellow defensive linemen Brown and Davidson did the right things to impress pro scouts during the 2019 season. Each has a great opportunity to play many years in the NFL. Davidson, a round two pick to the Falcons, probably made a big leap forward in draft position compared to where he would have been chosen a year earlier.
With Brown being drafted at No. 7 overall and Igbinoghene going off the board 23 picks later, it was just the sixth time in Auburn history that multiple Tigers were drafted in the first round. It first happened in 1986 with running back Bo Jackson being selected No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay and former Notasulga High defensive end Gerald Robinson the 14th pick going to the Minnesota Vikings.
The record for first round picks from Auburn is four in the 2005 draft with running back Ronnie Brown going No. 2 to the Miami Dolphins and running back Carnell Williams No. 5 to Tampa Bay. Cornerback Carlos Rogers was the ninth pick to the Washington Redskins, who also drafted quarterback Jason Campbell with the 25th pick.
With the Philadelphia Eagles taking offensive tackles Jack Driscoll (fourth round) and Prince Tega Wanogho, Jr. (sixth round) and safety Daniel Thomas going in the fifth round to Jacksonville, the Tigers finished with six picks for a second consecutive year, four off the program record from the 1989 draft. Last year five of the six drafted Tigers made NFL rosters and there is no reason that total can’t be matched or bettered in 2020.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter