Derrick Brown has had to scoop sand into buckets to create makeshift weights that he can exercise with back at his home in Georgia.
It can’t be easy in isolation, preparing for pro football while cut off from training equipment and facilities. He’s been running agility drills alone out in a grassy field, as he’s shown on social media. It’s a long way from bright lights and packed stadiums, with the sports world shut down in a pandemic.
But for one day, Brown can live his dream again.
For one day, he can achieve again.
Today is that day.
Today, Brown is going to hear his name called.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. on national TV, and Brown is a sure-fire first-rounder set to headline this year’s crop of Auburn talents, all hoping to finally live out that life-long dream of becoming an NFL player at some point over the course of the draft this weekend.
The first round is tonight, set to be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network. The second and third rounds will be picked on Friday night and the remaining selections will be made on Saturday.
“Combining my home life and my work life, with everything that’s going on, is kind of difficult,” Brown said in a recent video depicting those buckets and those drills, which he posted to his Twitter and was produced by USAA. “Anything, everything that works, we’re doing.”
If he came through another year, he might be in the NFL Draft’s green room today, ready to embrace the NFL’s commissioner and hear the roar of the fans.
Instead he’s at home. But hearing that name being called, all the same, will surely feel electric.
Brown and his partner on the defensive line Marlon Davidson stand with the rising star at cornerback Noah Igbinoghene as three Auburn players who could get picked up today per popular projections, before a handful of other Tigers could go on Day 2 and Day 3.
Brown has long been labeled a top-10 pick. Davidson and Igbinoghene are both straddling the fence according to prognosticators, expected by many to be picked in the second round if not tonight.
For all of them, even amid social distancing and as this year’s NFL Draft goes virtual, getting picked would surely be a dream come true.
ESPN’s popular NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper projects Brown to be picked by the Carolina Panthers seventh overall, and so does his colleague Todd McShay. CBS columnist Pete Prisco has Brown going as high as the No. 3 pick to Detroit Lions. Few have him falling past the Arizona Cardinals at No. 8 or the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 9.
Kiper also has Igbinoghene being picked in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st pick. Neither of ESPN’s top experts have Davidson being picked tonight, but CBS columnist Ryan Wilson has Davidson going No. 27 overall to the Seattle Seahawks.
If all three pieces fall Auburn’s way, Auburn will have three first-round picks in the NFL Draft for the first time since the talented, undefeated 2004 Tigers team had three players picked in the first round in the spring of 2005.
After tonight, attention will turn to any of those three who are left plus offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho who could be a Day 2 pickup.
On fast-moving Day 3, offensive tackle Jack Driscoll, cornerback Javaris Davis, safeties Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas, plus pass-rusher Nick Coe will all hope to be selected or to pick up deals as undrafted free agents.
Tonight, ESPN and NFL Network will be combining resources to broadcast the first round while ABC will be offering unique coverage on the flagship station.
Brown, Igbinoghene and Wanogho have all agreed to “virtually” participate in the draft, as the NFL has sent cameras to their homes for live look-ins during the all-remote process and presentation.