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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mel Kiper Jr. weighs in on the draft prospects of Antonio Coleman, Ben Tate and Walt McFadden

ESPN's NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. was kind enough to hold a teleconference for us media types this morning to share his encyclopedic knowledge of every football prospect in the country.

After a healthy amount of time waiting in line for a question, the blog was able to get his thoughts on some Auburn players who could get be selected in the NFL Draft, which takes place April 22-24. Here's what he had to say:

(And while we're here, this is as good of a time as any to follow the blog on Twitter.)

On DE/OLB Antonio Coleman ...
"When you're a 3-4 outside linebacker or an edge pass rusher, but in his case I would think more of a 3-4 outside linebacker, speed and athleticism are going to be the key entities for him at the combine. We were talking about other players, it's just that one area. It's not the whole workout. So again for Coleman, if he can just define elements of his game that need to be strong, then if he does come through with that he can be a third- to fifth-round pick. He's been in that mix the last couple years, when you start ranking him as opposed to the other players that fall into that combo defensive end/outside linebacker category."
On RB Ben Tate ...
"In terms of Tate, productive kid at Auburn. Hard-nosed runner, did a good job. He's averaged nearly 6 yards per carry so I mean the kid was productive. When he got near the goal line, he smelled the end zone and got it in there. In terms of elusiveness and change of direction, not quite as shifty as some of the other guys. I think in the fourth, fifth, sixth round area you can see maybe Ben Tate coming off the board."
On CB Walt McFadden ...
"In terms of the corner, Walter McFadden, size-wise, that's the negative. But hey, a nickel, dime back with his coverage skills, I think he can be a later round type guy. I say later rounds, maybe in the sixth round area."
Kiper said the pre-draft workouts are going to be most important for Coleman and McFadden. That's not the same case for Tate.

"In terms of Tate, it's not necessarily about workouts," Kiper said. "We talked about that earlier, identifying one area. In running back, the workout, unless you're going to be a Chris Johnson and be in the elite speed category, running backs are going to drop regardless. That's why in the fifth, sixth, seventh round you can always get good backs. Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh round, you can find good backs every year at that position unlike other spots where they come off a lot earlier."

The NFL Combine, which Tate and Coleman will attend, is Feb. 24 to March 2 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. Auburn's pro day has not been scheduled yet. Last year it was March 10.

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