AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- On Saturday, the 2023 NFL Draft concluded. With 13 Auburn hopefuls, five former tigers heard their names called over the past week. Auburn is one of only 19 schools to have five or more draft picks this year. This crushes last year's total when Auburn only had one player drafted, cornerback Roger McCreary, to the Tennessee Titans in the second round. Auburn also helped contribute to the SEC’s streak of 17 years in a row having more NFL Draft picks than any other conference.
First off the board was former Auburn captain, EDGE Derick Hall. Hall went sixth in the second round and 37th overall to the Seattle Seahawks. He was the Seahawks’ third selection behind Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
In his post draft analysis, ESPN’s Brady Henderson remarked how Seattle was looking for a starting linebacker, and with this pick he believes it indicates the Seahawks think Hall can be a starter. “At 6-foot-3, 254 and with experience dropping into coverage in college, he fits the profile of what they want in an OLB.” Hall was also featured on the Emmy Award winning series ‘NFL 360’ which documented his near-death experience of being born four months premature and his transition into becoming one of the best linebackers in the country.
Next up, also on day two, was running back Tank Bigsby. Bigsby was drafted to the Jacksonville Jaguars 88th overall in the third round. He was the seventh running back taken and the fourth in the third round alone. Bigsby looks to work alongside Travis Etienne Jr. and adds depth to the Jaguars’ running back room. He joins former Auburn safety Daniel Thomas in Jacksonville and joins the likes of former Auburn running backs who have been drafted including his mentor Cadillac Williams, and Auburn’s last running back drafted, Kerryon Johnson.
ESPN draft analyst Louis Riddick had only good things to say about this pick, “If you want another example of why you don’t need to draft a running back in the first round, here it is. This is my poster boy for it right here.”
Colby Wooden was the next tiger drafted and started Auburn’s busy day on day three. The defensive lineman was taken in the fourth round with the 116th pick to the Green Bay Packers. After the Packers called, Wooden said “I’m blessed and honored to go to such a storied franchise. I've been sitting around today, it was just like a calmness, like I knew I was going. I just didn’t know when. But when the Packers gave me a call, I was over the moon, ecstatic. I’m just ready to go.” He looks to fill the hole of defensive tackle in Green Bay after they lost two of their starters, Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed, in free agency. Packers assistant director of college scouting, Patrick Moore stated “… we need to get faster because the NFL’s getting faster and he definitely brings that to our defense.”
The next player taken on day three was Owen Pappoe. The linebacker was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round with the 168th pick. Pappoe believes his athleticism is what caught the team’s attention. “They definitely saw what kind of athlete I am, how explosive I am, how fast… I am a very coachable player and a hell of an athlete. I am appreciative of what JG and the cast saw in me to make this pick.”
The last of the Auburn players drafted was kicker Anders Carlson. Carlson was selected in the sixth round, 207th overall by the Green Bay Packers. He joins new draftee Colby Wooden in Green Bay as well as former Auburn safety Rudy Ford. Although projected to go undrafted, Carlson follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Daniel, also being drafted into the NFC North. He looks to take over the Packers starting kicker position after their all-time franchise leading scorer, Mason Crosby, remains unsigned.
However, even though the draft ended, the undrafted free agency is in full effect. Five Auburn Tigers have already signed free agent deals. EDGE Eku Leota signed with the Carolina Panthers. The Asheville, North Carolina native is staying home and will be joining former Auburn defensive stars Derrick Brown and Chandler Wooten in Carolina. Next, tight end John Samuel Shenker signed with the Las Vegas Raiders looking to play alongside Auburn’s all-time leading scorer, Daniel Carlson. The Cincinnati Bengals went on to sign wide receiver Shedrick Jackson. Two of Auburn’s starting offensive linemen also signed UDFA deals. Kilian Zierer signed with the Houston Texans and Brandon Council is going to be a New York Jet. Council would become the fourth Auburn player for the Jets joining Carl Lawson, C.J. Uzomah and Jamien Sherwood. Marcus Bragg, Marquis Burks and Morris Joseph Jr. are still undrafted free agents at this time.