Auburn has had a reputation for developing solid NFL talent in recent memory. The Tigers have 27 Auburn alumni on active NFL rosters as of Sep. 19 with nine more players on practice squads or injured reserve.
Going into the league, just about every player has some sort of chip on their shoulder and for many former Tigers, collegiate success has turned into productivity in the pros. Auburn alumni occupy 22 of of the NFL's 32 teams and while some are still trying to find a role in the league, others have already established that they belong in the NFL.
Cam Newton - Quarterback - Carolina Panthers
Auburn fans know the story well: A spectacular 2010 Heisman season leading to an Auburn national title and Newton being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Since then, Newton has developed into one of the games' best quarterbacks.
While Newton hasn't exactly been able to capture the same magic that saw him win the 2015 NFL MVP and a Super Bowl appearance for the Carolina Panthers, Newton is still finding ways to shred NFL defenses with his unique blend of size, speed and talent.
In a Week 1 win against the Cowboys, Newton scored one of the Panthers' two touchdowns on a 4-yard rush. Newton finished the game with 161 passing yards on 26 attempts to go along with a team-high 58 rushing yards.
Week 2 pit Cam and the Panthers against divisional rival Atlanta. Despite a 31-24 loss, Newton put on a show for the Atlanta crowd, finishing with nearly 400 total yards and three touchdowns. Once again, Newton led the Panthers in rushing yards, further cementing himself as the league's top dual-threat quarterback.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Newton's 100 rushing yards (on only 18 attempts) through two weeks is second among quarterbacks, a skill sorely needed by a weak Carolina rushing attack.
Peyton Barber - Running back - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Racking up over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2015, Barber declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. Barber went undrafted but has since climbed his way up the depth chart for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, despite the team drafting a running back early in the second round in this past years draft, Barber impressed coaches enough to secure the starting job for the Bucs.
Barber hasn't done anything particularly spectacular with the starting role but the Buccaneers have adapted a pass-first approach which is in part why Barber has only racked 91 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
Barber has also yet to find his way into the end zone so far this season but with a primetime Monday Night Football matchup against the Steelers in Week, the former Auburn back will be looking to change that.
Kerryon Johnson - Running back - Detroit Lions
After rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 21 total touchdowns in a junior campaign that saw him finish in the top 10 in Heisman voting, Johnson was drafted in the second round of last year's NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.
The Lions haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. Even more surprisingly, Bush is also the last Lions running back to rush for 100 yards in a game. Having arguably the worst run offense in the NFL for the last four seasons is a big reason the team took a flier on Johnson.
After a solid preseason, many expected Johnson to emerge from the crowded Lions backfield that includes LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. However, it is that crowded backfield that has limited Johnson's potential thus far.
While Johnson does lead the team in rushing with 60 yards through two weeks, his 13 carries don't jump off the page. Reeling in 43 yards receiving shows Johnson's skills in the passing game, and although the more veteran Blount and Riddick will continue to vulture carries from the rookie, Johnson should be able to prove himself as the more talented prospect as the season progresses.
Cody Parkey - Kicker - Chicago Bears
Before Daniel Carlson was breaking records left and right on The Plains, there was Cody Parkey.
Parkey has a rollercoaster of a career. After breaking the NFL single-season record for most points scored by a rookie (150) with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, Parkey was released by the team after a gruesome groin injury.
Now on his fifth team in as many seasons, Parkey has secured the starting job for the Chicago Bears. So far, it looks as though Parkey may have found a permanent home. Through two games, Parkey has connected on all four of his field goal attempts as well as all five extra-point attempts.
Having shown impressive range while at Auburn, Parkey hasn't been able to showcase the leg power he was known for in the past. All four of Parkey's field goal attempts have been under 35 yards. Regardless, the Bears cant ask for more than the perfect track record Parkey has given them early in the season.
Dee Ford - Linebacker - Kansas City Chiefs
At Auburn, Ford made a name for himself for his ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. A first-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, Ford has vastly improved the Chiefs pass rush, leading the team in sacks in 2016 (10).
As the team's starting outside linebacker in 2018, Ford has already gotten to the quarterback in the seasons first two weeks. He sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers in Game 1.
Ford is one of only two Chiefs players to record a sack so far this season. Ford's six total tackles also ranks among the top for an athletic Chiefs defense.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman