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PFW: Auburn takes torch from Miami (Fla.) as king of NFL draft’s first round


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Auburn takes torch from Miami (Fla.) as king of NFL draft’s first round

By Chris Neubauer

April 23, 2005

Is there a new college football factory being erected in the Southeast to challenge the University of Miami (Fla.)’s stranglehold on NFL talent?

Based on the first few hours of the 2005 draft it’s starting to look like it. After never having more than two players selected in the first round of any single NFL selection meeting, it took just nine picks this year for Auburn to eclipse that mark and to have its third player taken. QB Jason Campbell became the fourth and final Auburn player selected in the first round when Washington plucked him at No. 25.

Not a bad showing for an SEC power that has had just four players selected in the first round in the last 10 years and 20 total first-rounders since 1950.

Miami had a NFL-record six players selected in the first round of the 2004 draft. Only one Hurricane heard his name called in the first round this year — CB Antrel Rolle went to Arizona at No. 8.

“It’s a great day. We knew we had a great football team and it was a great year for us,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We set records, went 13-0 for the first time and then, heck, (four) guys picked in the first round, two running backs, it makes you feel good for the players because they did so much for us here. I’m glad it worked out for them.”

RBs Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams were the first two Tigers taken, after splitting time in the Auburn backfield for the past four years. Brown, often the backup to Williams at Auburn, went second to the Dolphins and Williams went fifth to the Bucs.

CB Carlos Rogers was the third Tiger drafted (No. 9 to Washington) and the third CB taken. Campbell joined Rogers with the Redskins one pick after QB Aaron Rodgers went to the Packers at No. 24, making Campbell the third quarterback drafted.

It’s no coincidence that the Auburn quartet drew so much attention from NFL teams. They led a potent Tigers offense and stingy secondary to a 13-0 mark last season, including a Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech.

For Auburn to join Miami, Michigan, Texas and Florida State as the newest face on the Mt. Rushmore of college football factories, the Tigers must build off their undefeated season and their impressive talent pool. Miami produced four first-round picks in 2001 and 2003 and another five top picks in 2002. Auburn had four players drafted in seven rounds last year, including two second-round picks. The Tigers have a handful of top NFL-caliber players for next year’s draft.

But as Miami showed us this year, it’s rare to produce multiple first-round NFL talents on a regular basis. Recruiting, injuries and coaching turnover all have an effect on the rate of first-rounders churned out by college football factories.

We may never again see a five-year period where 20 first-rounders come from the same school like Miami (Fla.) has produced since 2001. But Auburn is off to an awfully good start to rein in the Hurricanes for the next couple of years.

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