Auburn running back Tre Mason has decided to declare for early NFL draft entry despite an evaluation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board that projects him as only a third-round choice.
Although the junior might only project as a third-round pick, prospects at his position tend to declare early more than others because running backs tend to have the shortest NFL careers. The logic is simple enough: While returning to Auburn could have helped his draft stock for the 2015 draft, it could have also shortened his pro career by delaying its beginning.
Mason broke Bo Jackson's single-season rushing record at Auburn with his final carry in the BCS title game, a 37-yard touchdown against Florida State that gave him 1,816 yards for the year. Jackson, however, played in the era of 11-game regular seasons and without conference championship games.
Mason (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) used a late-season surge to become a Heisman Trophy finalist and elevate his draft stock, rushing for over 100 yards in his last six games, and at least 164 over his last three against Alabama, Missouri and FSU. His departure leaves Auburn coach Gus Malzahn with another hole in his lineup to fill in spring practice, along with left tackle Greg Robinson, who also declared for early NFL draft entry.