By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Breakdown of another running back. Auburn’s Tre Mason.
Tre Mason/RB Auburn: 5’8/4 207
– Great lateral agility
– Quick feet
– Maintains speed through his cuts
– Decisive runner who hits hole with conviction
– Produces just enough splash plays to keep you intrigued
– Tougher runner than expected who isn’t scared to run between the tackles
– Shows leg drive
– HUGE senior season
– Played against top competition
– Lots of return value
– Performed well in big games
– Some muscle but short and relatively small frame
– Above average but not top notch speed, more quick than fast
– Goes down too easily, difficulty running through contact
– Still not a particularly powerful runner
– Lacks strength in pass protection
– Potential fumble issues
– Played in run-friendly offense
– Some difficulty creating space unless naturally there
– 2013: 1816 yards rushing, 23 TDs (tied SEC record)
– SEC Offensive Player of Year and First Team selection
– 2nd Team AP All-American
– 2374 all-purpose yards set Auburn record, surpassing Bo Jackson
– Career: 42 returns (all kickoffs) 1107 yards (26.4 avg) 2 TDs
– 46 carries, 304 yards, 4 TDs in SEC Title game vs Missouri
– 34 carries, 195 yards, 1 TD in National Championship game
– 19 career receptions
– Father is Vincent Mason, member of rap group “De La Soul”
– Dealt with injury to his left ankle during his senior year
Mason provides just enough tantalizing plays to keep you wanting to watch more. Times where he can get bottled up carry after carry and then finally bust a big run. Happened against Texas A&M. Has that splash-play threat to keep you engaged.
Splash play against the vaunted Alabama defense, including making Ha Ha Clinton-Dix miss. Does get chased down by a linebacker at the end of the play, however.
Like his feet and he maintains his speed moving laterally. Combination of being a decisive, downhill runner who doesn’t dance results in him consistently getting positive yards.
Really love the above play. Presses the hole, gets the defender to commit, and then cuts to the right for a big gain.
Underrated aspect to his game is his toughness. Certainly not a brusier but no feat to run between the tackles. Auburn trusted him to handle the workload (317 carries) and used on numerous 3rd/4th and shorts.
And trusted near the goal line to find the end zone.
Runner that does go down too easily and doesn’t always run through contact. Not a tiny frame but don’t get the Ray Rice comparisons. Same height but Rice is much thicker than Mason. Some big runs he could have busted off if he would have broken one more tackle in the open field.
Struggles in pass protection. Didn’t get a ton of chances either because of Auburn’s run-heavy, option offense.
In the three games I watched, he fumbled once. Put the ball on the ground in two other instances but was called down. Ask Montee Ball. Fumbles will quickly put you in a coaches’ doghouse.
Question that lingers is whether or not he is a product of Auburn’s offense. Option heavy and it gave Mason a lot of space to run. With his struggles to run through contact and the realization he won’t always have the open field like plays pictured below, how will he fare?
While I’m not completely sold on Mason, I am a fan. Especially in a relatively weak running back class without a standout runner. His combination of being a downhill runner with quick feet and lateral quickness is a dangerous one. He may not be huge in size but handled the workload last season like a bruiser. Showed he is capable of being an every-down back.
His return ability also boosts his value. An asset and at worst, teams will have that to fall back on if he doesn’t pan out as a full-time runner.
Projection: Late Second-Early Third
Games Watched: at Texas A&M, vs Alabama, vs Florida St (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
Rice CB Phillip Gaines
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Cincinnati TE Blake Annen
Alabama LB C.J. Mosley