SEC sacks leader Coleman not taken
By ANDY BITTER
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn cornerback Walt McFadden worked out for several teams before the NFL draft, but his interaction with the Oakland Raiders was limited to a simple visit.
“I guess my visit went pretty well,” he said with a laugh after the Raiders took him in the fifth round Saturday.
McFadden was the second Auburn player to be selected in the draft, coming off the board at No. 138 overall. He joined running back Ben Tate, who was taken by the Houston Texans in the second round Friday.
The selection was a bit of redemption for McFadden. He did not earn an invitation to the NFL Combine in February but had an impressive showing at Auburn’s Pro Day, running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. He also measured bigger than expected, at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.
“I tried to take it as a situation where there are a lot of people that weren’t in my opportunity to come from the bottom and have a chance, being snubbed from the combine and everything,” he said. “I just look at as I was blessed to be part of the top players once they put out the final rankings.”
He isn’t the only former Auburn player headed to the Raiders. Shortly after taking McFadden, Oakland finalized a trade with Washington for former Tigers quarterback Jason Campbell.
The move came just days after the Raiders acquired former Auburn linebacker Quentin Groves from Jacksonville.
“(It’s) a good atmosphere for me to watch what he’s doing and to have him as a backbone to get through my first year, just having some kind of friendship already,” McFadden said.
McFadden, who finished his college career with 87 tackles, nine interceptions and three touchdowns, continued a trend for the Tigers. Auburn has had a defensive back selected in five of the past six years. He joins Jerraud Powers (2009), Jonathan Wilhite (2008), David Irons (2007) and Carlos Rogers (2005) in that group.
While McFadden celebrated, the day was marked with disappointment for former Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman. Last season’s SEC leader in sacks and tackles for a loss was not among the 255 players selected in the draft’s seven rounds.
For Coleman, a first-team All-SEC selection, it was a precipitous drop. Thought to be a second- or third-round pick before he elected to return for his senior season, his stock plummeted this offseason, even though he led the league in sacks (10) and tackles for a loss (16.5).
Questions persisted about what position the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Coleman would play in the NFL. Teams were concerned about his speed as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and size as a defensive end in a 4-3.
Coleman didn’t help his cause during offseason workouts. A quad strain limited his activities during the NFL Combine in February. He did the bench press but managed only 18 reps at 225 pounds.
A total of 47 defensive ends or outside linebackers were taken in this year’s draft.
Mississippi State’s Willie Evans was the last SEC sacks leader not to get drafted.
Auburn’s two draftees were its fewest since 2003, when it had no players selected.