Auburn's Tre Mason the top running back in NFL draft?

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*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations*

By Phillip Marshall

AUBURN, Ala. - Tre Mason ran to the top of the Auburn record books in the season just ended and might have run to the top of the running back chart in the NFL draft, too.

Gil Brandt, senior analyst for, writes that he believes Mason, who broke Auburn records with 1816 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns, is the top running back in the draft.

"I think Mason is the best running back in the draft. In terms of skills," wrote Brandt, who became renowned as talent scout in decades with the Dallas Cowboys. "He doesn't have to improve anything. He can catch the ball really well, he's got good vision and he's tough. I believe he will be a real threat as a runner in the NFL. And he can also do a lot of other things for you, including returning kicks."

That doesn't mean Mason will be a first-round pick. In the modern NFL, running backs rarely are. He received a third-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board, but Brandt ranks him higher.

"I would put him more around the second round," Brandt wrote. "You would like to have a running back who's a little taller and heavier than Mason, but he's not a bad size for a running back, at about 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, and anyway, his speed makes up for whatever he lacks in size. It's also true that Auburn's offensive system helps players like Mason be productive, but I believe that his quickness and running ability will allow him to be very effective in whatever system he plays in."

Mason and left tackle Greg Robinson announced after Auburn's 34-31 loss to Florida State in the BCS Championship Game that they would enter the draft.

Robinson won't have to wait long to hear his name called. He is generally considered a top 10 pick.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper says Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews are the top tackles in the draft.

"I love the way he goes out and just takes pride in his work," Kiper said. "He's a mature kid and professional in terms of his approach and his demeanor. He just has great talent at 6-5, 320. He's light on his feet. He has everything that you want."

Among other Auburn players who will be watching and listening with interest on draft day are defensive end Dee Ford, cornerback Chris Davis, fullback Jay Prosch and punter Steven Clark.

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