NFL Draft Countdown: Auburn’s Mason makes sweet music on field

Posted Sunday, May. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Tre Mason doesn’t play an instrument or sing — at least not well — failing to inherit those talents from his father.

Instead, the Auburn running back makes different kinds of records.

“I love music, but me making it?” Mason said, laughing. “It’s not a pretty sight.”

The son of Vincent Mason — who is known professionally as DJ Maseo from the hip-hop trio band De La Soul — rushed for 1,816 yards last season to break Bo Jackson’s school record for rushing yards in a season. That ranks Mason third in SEC history.

It happened despite Mason sharing carries for the first six games. It wasn’t until the Tigers played Texas A&M on Oct. 19 that Mason became the bell cow. He gained at least 115 yards in each of the final six games, including 304 in the SEC title game against Missouri and 195 in the national championship game against Florida State.

Mason might have broken more records had he been given more chances early.

“Who knows,” he said, “but I feel like I would’ve been able to touch 2,000 yards. That was the goal. At one point I started to say, ‘Maybe I need to get to 2,000 yards.’ 

The NFL has devalued running backs, which is why, for the second consecutive year, no prospect at the position projects as a first-round pick.

“I think it’s a trend at every level that they’re using multiple backs, so there is not always that one bell cow,” Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “When you see that you can find fourth-, fifth-, sixth-round backs who are extremely productive, history tells you that you can find those guys in later rounds. At the same time, when one comes along like Adrian Peterson, and they’re special, you take one and don’t look back.”

Mason, 20, wants to be that rare workhorse back. He did it in high school. He did it in college. He believes he’ll do it in the NFL, too.

“Being doubted all my career, I just love to prove people wrong,” Mason said.

Overview

Last year marked the first time since 1963 that a running back wasn’t selected in the first round. No running backs will be selected in the first round this year either, the first time ever that no running backs have gone in the first round in back-to-back years. This class is an average class, though there are some good values in rounds two, three and four.

Cowboys’ needs

DeMarco Murray finally became the workhorse the Cowboys thought he could be when they drafted him in the third round in 2011. He rushed for the third-most yards in the NFL in the final eight games of last season and finished the year with 1,121 yards and his first Pro Bowl berth. The Cowboys love Lance Dunbar’s explosiveness, but at 5-foot-8 and 188 pounds, he hasn’t shown he can withstand the punishment of an NFL running back. He played in only nine games last season because of injuries. The Cowboys drafted Joseph Randle in the fifth round last season to be Murray’s primary backup, but his development was delayed by thumb surgery in the off-season, and he carried the ball in only five games. The Cowboys will likely add a running back in the late rounds.

Top five

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State, 6-0, 230, 4.66: He returned from a three-game suspension to rush for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.

Tre Mason, Auburn, 5-9, 207, 4.50: His SEC-leading 1,816 rushing yards last season broke Bo Jackson’s single-season school record.

Jeremy Hill, LSU, 6-1, 233, 4.66: He returned from a one-game suspension to rush for 1,401 yards, second-most in school history.

Terrance West, Towson, 5-9, 225, 4.54: He led FCS in rushing yards (2,519) and touchdowns (41) last season.

Devonta Freeman, Florida State, 5-8, 206, 4.58: He was the school’s first 1,000-yard running back since Warrick Dunn in 1996.

Sleeper

Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern, 5-9, 209, 4.41: He started five games at quarterback and four at running back last season.

Top Texas ties

Lache Seastrunk, Baylor, 5-10, 201, 4.51: The projected third-round pick led the Bears in rushing yards for the second consecutive season, running for 1,177 in 2013 after gaining 1,012 in 2012.

Charles Sims, West Virginia, 6-0, 214, 4.48: The Houston Westbury product, who spent four seasons at the University of Houston, led the Big 12 with 1,496 yards from scrimmage in 2013.

Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sportsline.

NFL Draft

May 8-10, Radio City Music Hall, New York

TV: Round 1, 7 p.m. Thursday, NFL Network, ESPN. Rounds 2-3, 5:30 p.m. Friday, NFL Network, ESPN. Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. Saturday, NFL Network, ESPN.

The order

1. Houston

2. St. Louis (from Washington)

3. Jacksonville

4. Cleveland

5. Oakland

6. Atlanta

7. Tampa Bay

8. Minnesota

9. Buffalo

10. Detroit

11. Tennessee

12. NY Giants

13. St. Louis

14. Chicago

15. Pittsburgh

16. Dallas

17. Baltimore

18. NY Jets

19. Miami

20. Arizona

21. Green Bay

22. Philadelphia

23. Kansas City

24. Cincinnati

25. San Diego

26. Cleveland (from Indianapolis)

27. New Orleans

28. Carolina

29. New England

30. San Francisco

31. Denver

32. Seattle.

 

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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