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Auburn RB Kamryn Pettway could face ‘tough call’ on NFL Draft decision

Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway runs the ball against LSU Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway runs the ball against LSU Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway won’t have an easy decision to make when he huddles with his family after the season to discuss his future.

The third-year sophomore, who has two years of eligibility remaining, could declare early for the NFL Draft.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has a second to third round grade for Pettway, but puts him outside the top tier of running backs.

Kiper lists Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, D’Onta Foreman and Christian McCaffrey at the top of the group in his most recent positional rankings with Pettway outside the top 10.

A deep draft class combined with a large talent pool of running backs at the NFL level could cost Pettway a shot at going on day two of the draft if he declares.

“It depends on who is going to take a running back at that point with not many teams in the NFL needing one,” Kiper said on a conference call with reporters Thursday.

Former Auburn running back Peyton Barber declared early for the NFL Draft last year. He had a mid-round grade, but ended up going undrafted.

“That’s a tough call for a running back,” Kiper said. “There’s probably going to be four running backs in the first round and it looks like three to four more in the second and he would be in that mix.”

Pettway finished the regular season with 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns. A late-season injury (quad) prevented the running back from having a shot at the SEC rushing title.

The league’s coaches voted the sophomore to the All-SEC first team this week.

“He was unbelievable until injury, he runs over people and has got some quickness,” Kiper said.

The NCAA has a mid-January deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. Players can ask the NFL’s College Advisory Committee to evaluate their draft prospects in December.

The running back’s father Orlando Pettway told the Ledger-Enquirer in November he believes his son has some “unfinished business” on the Plains.

“I think he will want another shot,” Pettway said. “He also graduates in May, which is something I know is important to him. I think that could all factor in.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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