16 Dec 2013 02:59 PM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Tre Mason runs away from Missouri defenders in the SEC Championship Game. (Image Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)
On Saturday I broke down the NFL potential of quarterbacks Jameis Winston, AJ McCarron and Johnny Manziel. Here is part two of the Heisman Trophy Draft Watch:
4) RB Tre Mason, Auburn, JR: 1,621 yards, 22 TDs, 5.7 YPC
The Auburn junior will go into the BCS Championship Game riding a streak of five straight games with at least 115 yards, including three games over 160 yards, culminating with his 304-yard performance in the SEC Championship Game. He didn’t just get himself invited to New York with his late season surge, as Mason has also been rising up draft boards. He’s been a productive runner, a scoring machine (TD in 12 of 13 games) and a workhorse for the Tigers: eight games with 20-plus carries, six games with 25-plus carries, 46 carries last week.
Although he has carried the load for Auburn in the SEC, Mason lacks prototypical size at just 5’9” and 205 pounds, so he probably won’t be able to match that type of production at the next level. A one-cut runner, Mason doesn’t fool around, he sees a hole and hits it, usually at full speed. The junior has excellent vision and makes the most of his ability. He doesn’t expect to time out with elite speed, but Mason has good burst and seems to hit his top speed rather quickly. In addition to his running skills, Mason is a productive kick returner.
Draft Projection: Second-Round Pick
5) RB Andre Williams, Boston College, SR: 2,102 yards, 17 TDs, 6.4 YPC
As a senior, Williams has done wonders for his draft stock with one of the most productive seasons by a running back in college football history. The BC product has put up downright prolific numbers. Williams led the nation with 2,102 rushing yards and 329 carries. On his way to 175.2 YPG, the senior had five 200-yard games and four times this season topped 250 rushing yards, including a season-high 339 yards against NC State. The bell cow hit the 30-carry mark a whopping six times, so he’s shown this season he can be durable after coming into his final year as a collegian with question marks in that department.
At nearly 6’0” and over 220 pounds, Williams has the prototypical build to play on Sundays. He is a powerful runner between the tackles who knows how to use his size to pick up every available yard in the trenches. Once he gets a head of steam behind him, he flashes some swiftness, however he lacks elite burst, quickness and long speed. Moreover, he offers little in terms of open field moves. Williams is also limited by his lack of production as a pass catcher, having made just 10 career receptions, none this season.
Draft Projection: Second-to-Third Round Pick
6) QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois, SR: 2,676 yards, 23 TDs (7 INTs), 63.1%
In addition to his solid passing numbers, Lynch rushed for a whopping 1,881 yards (6.9 YPC) and 22 TDs. That’s more rushing yards than Mason, and more rushing TDs, as well as a higher yards per carry average than both Mason and Williams. It’s amazing that a MAC player was even invited to New York City—only future first-round picks QB Chad Pennington and WR Randy Moss are previous MAC finalists—a true testament to just how spectacular Lynch was this season.
To give you a (somewhat lazy) analogy, in many ways Lynch is a mid-major man’s Tim Tebow. At the college level that means a highly productive stat-sheet stuffer, both as a runner and a passer, as well as a winner. However, like Tebow, Lynch is going to have trouble finding people who believe in his ability as a quarterback at the next level. He’s short (6’0”) and simply isn’t a good enough passer. He lacks the accuracy of a Pennington, as well as the arm/size combo of a Ben Roethlisberger or even Byron Leftwich. Like Tebow, his best chance to play at the next level might be at a different position.
Draft Projection: Undrafted Free Agent
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of American. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.
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