AUBURN, Ala. For all his success this season, Tre Mason still has critics that don't believe he's capable of being a starting running back in the NFL.
Gil Brandt isn't among that group of naysayers.
NFL.com's senior analyst who developed a sterling reputation for spotting talent during his time as the Dallas Cowboys' vice president of player personnel from 1960-89 believes Mason is one of the top three running backs available in May's NFL draft. Monday morning, Brandt listed Mason as the best running back prospect in the draft. After Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and LSU's Jeremy Hill declared later in the day, Brandt revised his rankings, putting Hill at the top followed by Carey at No. 2 and Mason as "No. 2A."
Still, Brandt holds the Heisman Trophy finalist in high regard, comparing him to former Cowboy great Tony Dorsett.
"The Dorsett comparison had to do with Mason's unbelievable quickness -- he's the kind of back who can start and stop on a dime and leave you eight cents worth of change," Brandt wrote.
And despite Mason receiving a third-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board, Brand said the Florida was worthy of a look in the second round.
"You would like to have a running back who's a little taller and heavier than Mason, but he's not a bad size for a running back, at about 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, and anyway, his speed makes up for whatever he lacks in size," Brandt wrote. "It's also true that Auburn's offensive system helps players like Mason be productive, but I believe that his quickness and running ability will allow him to be very effective in whatever system he plays in."
Whichever team decides to take Mason will be getting a finished product in Brandt's estimation, as he doesn't think the former Tiger has any glaring weak spots in his game.
"In terms of skills, he doesn't have to improve anything," Brandt wrote. "He can catch the ball really well, he's got good vision and he's tough. I believe he will be a real threat as a runner in the NFL."
The NFL draft will be held May 8-10 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.