Auburn Tigers are headed off across the country — across the NFL.
Six former Auburn football players were picked up in the 2019 NFL Draft over the weekend, with three more signing deals to join club camps as undrafted free agents in the hours after the draft’s completion Saturday.
Former Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is headed to New England to join the Patriots. His top target at Auburn, receiver Ryan Davis, announced he’d be heading there, too, in the moments after the draft, signing up through free agency.
Between those announcements, four more Tigers were plucked off the big board by teams in the draft, joining Jamel Dean, who was the first former Auburn player taken in the draft, selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round on Friday as part of the three-day event.
Stidham was snagged by the Patriots in the fourth round. Another one of his receivers, Darius Slayton, was picked by the New York Giants in the fifth round. Tiger linebacker and captain Deshaun Davis was picked in the sixth round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In the seventh round, H-back Chandler Cox was taken by the Miami Dolphins and defensive lineman Dontavius Russell was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After Ryan Davis announced he was headed to New England, defensive lineman Andrew Williams announced he’d be joining Russell at Jaguars camp, and linebacker Darrell Williams announced he’d be signing with the New Orleans Saints.
Auburn’s six players taken in the 2019 draft represents the most Auburn has had taken in a single season since the draft was contracted to seven rounds in 1994.
Stidham, Dean and Slayton were Auburn’s three underclassmen who decided to forgo further eligibility at Auburn to chase their NFL dreams. All three were drafted.
Stidham with Davis
Stidham and Ryan Davis left Auburn as the most productive pass-and-catch tandem in Auburn football history, with the two topping the legendary duo Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley this past season to make up the most completions fired between a single quarterback and a single receiver in Auburn’s program history.
Now, they’re set to team up again with the NFL’s reigning Super Bowl champions.
Stidham is set to join Tom Brady’s quarterback room, with eyes on developing behind an all-time great, while Davis heads to Foxborough, Mass., to try to find his fit as a speedy open-field player in the place where undersized targets like Julien Edelman have thrived.
Davis is also Auburn’s all-time leader in career catches. He broke Courtney Taylor’s record in Auburn’s loss at Georgia last fall and ultimately tallied 174 receptions to set the school’s new mark on his way off the Plains.
In that same game, the two passed Sullivan and Beasley to set another record together.
Stidham has etched his own name in the Tiger record books in several other places, in just two seasons on the Plains. He helped guide the Tigers to the SEC Championship Game in 2017, and closed his collegiate career with a win in the Music City Bowl to end 2018 shortly after announcing he’d be forgoing his senior season and chasing his future in pro football.
He stands as the Tigers’ third-leading quarterback in career passing yards, behind only Stan White and Jason Campbell. He’s just the second Auburn quarterback to have ever thrown for 3,000 yards in a single season, after Dameyune Craig. His 48 career touchdown passes puts him second behind only Heisman-winning Sullivan on that list.
Captain gets picked
Overlooked no longer, Deshaun Davis found respect from the Bengals’ war room.
Completing a long journey to the league filled with doubts from around him, the All-SEC star linebacker and Tigers team captain now has a chance to prove himself in the NFL.
Davis was listed at 5-foot-11 and 233 pounds on Auburn’s roster last season.
But the team leader from Vigor High was the Tigers’ top tackler, pulling down 116 during his senior season in 2018. He finished the year with 15 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He earned first-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press at season’s end.
Cox is going back to Florida, after the stalwart in the Auburn backfield from Apopka, Fla., was snagged up by the Dolphins.
He’s one of four Tigers headed to the three NFL teams in the sunshine state, along with Dean going to Tampa Bay and Russell and Andrew Williams going to Jacksonville.
Per spotrac.com, which projects rookie deals based on draft positioning, third-round pick Dean could earn nearly $3.6 million on his four-year rookie deal, while seventh-rounders Cox and Russell could earn around $2.6 million in total value over their four-year deal.
Here are the spotrac projections for the total value each four-year contract could be worth for each Tiger selected, and the projected signing bonus the players could pick up — all based on where the players taken in the draft:
>> No. 94 overall — Jamel Dean: $3,581,768 / $843,625
>> No. 133 — Jarrett Stidham: $3,153,690 / $633,690
>> No. 171 — Darius Slayton: $2,753,988 / $233,988
>> No. 210 — Deshaun Davis: $2,647,353 / $127,353
>> No. 233 — Chandler Cox: $2,610,565 / $90,565
>> No. 235 — Dontavius Russell: $2,603,184 / $83,84