NFL Draft Recap: Rounds 1-3

Saturday, May 1, 2021

NFL Draft Recap: Rounds 1-3

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Auburn
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn finally gets a selection, so what does that mean?

The NFL Draft has concluded its first three rounds, and per the usual standards set over the past couple of decades, the SEC has dominated the early preceedings.

Now, unfortunately, Auburn only got in the mix on that front at the tail end of the third round, when Anthony Schwartz got drafted by the Cleveland Browns with Pick #91. He’ll join an already stacked Browns receiver group that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and tight end Austin Hooper, in addition to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt helping out in the backfield. He’ll also get to catch passes from Baker Mayfield. Overall, he joins a pretty solid offensive group, and we’ll see if his blazing speed fits a little better in the NFL than in Gus Malzahn’s scheme. Check out Ryan Sterritt’s writeup on the former Tiger to see exactly what he brings to the table in terms of translation at the next level.

With the final rounds set to take place today, Schwartz will almost certainly be joined by fellow receiver Seth Williams at some point, and possibly Eli Stove as well. Defensive prospects K.J. Britt, Jamien Sherwood, and Jordyn Peters might also have their names called today.

As for the first three rounds as a whole, they were very SEC-heavy, and by looking at the names, you almost wonder how Auburn has been as successful as they’ve been under Gus Malzahn. Most notably, Alabama had 6 first round picks, tying them with the Miami Hurricane class from the 2004 NFL Draft for most all-time in the first round. Overall, Bama has had 8 players selected, and they all came in the first 38 picks.

With many of those players selected coming from the class of 2017, it’s astounding that Auburn managed to beat them twice during their time in Tuscaloosa. What’s frustrating there is that if Gus Malzahn could have developed players a little more and evolved his offense, he’d still be here. After all, he was beating vastly superior Bama teams more regularly than anyone else in the country, and he was doing it at a talent discrepancy.

On the other hand, Georgia had 6 players selected through three rounds, with 4 of those names coming off of the defensive side of the ball. Kirby Smart’s stockpiling talent in Athens, and there’s really no sign of that slowing down. As long as he can’t beat Alabama, though, he’s not long for this world.

Aside from those two, the SEC picks went like this:

LSU - Ja’Marr Chass (5th overall - Bengals), Terrace Marshall (59th overall - Panthers)

Florida - Kyle Pitts (4th overall - Falcons), Kadarius Toney (20th overall - Giants), Kyle Trask (64th overall - Buccaneers)

South Carolina - Jaycee Horn (8th overall - Panthers), Ernest Jones (103rd overall - Rams)

Kentucky - Jamin Davis (19th overall - Washington), Kelvin Joseph (44th overall - Cowboys)

Ole Miss - Elijah Moore (34th overall - Jets)

Vanderbilt - Dayo Odeyingbo (54th overall - Colts)

Missouri - Nick Bolton (58th overall - Chiefs) (not the guy below)

Tennessee - Josh Palmer (77th overall - Chargers)

Texas A&M - Kellen Mond (66th overall - Vikings)

An Auburn player was first spotted with Darius Slayton announcing the Giants’ second round pick, but he ended up saying Georgia LB/DE Azeez Ojulari’s name, so it took the luster off of that a bit. Auburn was heavily represented in the “team getting roasted by player getting drafted” highlight counter, so that’s hilariously fun.

I like to think that it’s because our color scheme shows up so well on TV (Auburn has been featured in a bunch of different commercials for new televisions), but I think Bo Nix and Seth Williams personally got Jaycee Horn drafted in the first round. Jaylen Waddle’s 2019 Iron Bowl tape (even in a loss) is enough to make pro scouts drool. Don’t even mention the numerous Georgia players completely stonewalling Auburn offenses over the past few seasons.

One positive note comes from the future, however. With the top three picks in the draft being quarterbacks, it confirms Bryan Harsin’s ability as a judge of talent with his past actions.

If Harsin can evaluate talent on the offensive side so that Auburn is getting top draft picks at quarterback on a regular basis, or if he can develop Bo Nix to be more accurate and efficient than he has been, we could see a true exponential growth chart on the talent level on the Plains.

The fourth round begins at 11 am CST on ESPN today, so stay tuned because we’ll almost certainly hear the names of more Auburn players called today.

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