The Auburn Tigers will begin their 2012 college football season as the No. 25-ranked team, according to the USA Today preseason coaches poll.
Below, we list the top five 2013 NFL draft prospects who will lead the Top 25 Tigers in 2012:
WR Emory Blake
As the son of former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake, one could assume Emory has an understanding of the passing game.
In just eight games last season, Blake helped prove that fact. And despite a shaky quarterback situation, Blake still caught 36 passes for 613 yards and five scores. If healthy, 2012 could represent a breakout year for the 6'2", 197-pound senior.
RB Onterrio McCalebb
At 5'11", 175 pounds, McCalebb is simply too small to be an every-down back at the NFL level. But what he does bring to the table is speed and versatility, and the NFL has shown that it can use both in bunches from the running back position.
When you watch McCalebb work within the framework of the Auburn offense, it's hard not to see a Dexter McCluster-type player. McCluster hasn't been a huge hit at the next level, but McCalebb has that same kind of value.
TE Phillip Lutzenkirchen
Lutzenkirchen isn't in the mold of the NFL game-changing tight ends like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley. But he does provide a Heath Miller-like game that will be attractive for run-heavy outfits at the NFL level.
A tough guy to blow off the line at 6'6" and 255 pounds, Lutzenkirchen is solid as a blocker in both the run and pass game. He has softer hands than many give him credit for, too.
It will be interesting to see if he plays a bigger role in the passing game as a senior after catching just 44 passes (14 for touchdowns) his first three years at Auburn.
DE Corey Lemonier
Lemonier may be Auburn's best NFL prospect.
While he's small for a defensive end (6'4", 240 pounds), Lemonier is quick off the edge and actually possesses a better-than-average set of pass-rushing moves.
NFL teams will almost certainly ask him to play linebacker in a 3-4 defense, so his athleticism in space will be something to watch in 2012.
But as a college defensive end, Lemonier has been very productive. He tallied 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses as a sophomore in 2011. With another productive season as a junior, Lemonier could put his name among the pass-rushers considered as a top-50 pick.
CB T'Sharvan Bell
Bell has been slowed by November knee surgery for stretches this spring and summer, but he should be 100 percent by the time Auburn kicks off the 2012 season. If he's healthy, Bell should be a cornerback that can make some noise in the SEC.
Big, physical receivers can still give Bell (5'11", 185 pounds) trouble, but he's slowing learning to play those type of pass-catchers. He'll see plenty more in the SEC this season. With a solid year, Bell could be a mid-rounder next April.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!