Auburn Football: Cameron Artis-Payne May Be a Steal in the 2015 NFL Draft


The 2014 Auburn football team is stocked with future NFL players.

Junior wide receiver Sammie Coates has declared for the 2015 NFL Draft, and fellow underclassman wideout D’haquille “Duke” Williams is likely to do the same. All-American center Reese Dismukes has a long professional career ahead of him, and record-setting quarterback Nick Marshall has a bright future as well – though it may be as a defensive back.

And then there are the underrated players like senior running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

Oct 12, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) runs the ball for a touchdown in the second half against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers defeated the Catamounts 62-3. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Despite ranking in the nation’s top 20 and leading the Southeastern Conference with 1,482 rushing yards on 277 carries – 11 of which went for touchdowns – there isn’t a lot of draft buzz surrounding Artis-Payne.

That shouldn’t be a shock, however.

Artis-Payne has decent size at 5-foot-11, 210-pound, which is slightly bigger than Tre Mason, the 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist that started ahead of him last season for the Tigers before joining the St. Louis Rams as a third round pick in the 2014 Draft. But, he’s a few years older than Mason because of the roundabout route he took to Auburn – including two years away from football after high school in Pennsylvania, then prep school in New York, followed by junior college in California.

He’s also a little slower than Mason, too. Artis-Payne doesn’t have breakaway speed, and is listed at 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, which won’t help his draft status. However, he is light on his feet and runs with impressive yet underrated quickness and strength, which allows him fall forward at the end of runs to maximize yardage and avoid negative yardage plays. Plus, CAP has very good acceleration and hits the hole hard, which are great signs for the future.

The combination of skills he’s shown this season have led to great on-field success in Artis-Payne’s first crack at the starting job. He got off to a great start with 177 yards in the season opener against Arkansas, put up a career-high with 221 yards against Texas A&M later in the season, and topped the century mark in eight of twelve games this year. And the senior can add to that total in the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin.

Cameron Artis-Payne has been every bit as productive as the best running backs in Auburn football history, joining Mason, Rudi Johnson and Heisman winners Bo Jackson and Cam Newton as the only Tigers to run for 1,400 yards in a season.

That success should provide CAP a chance to see what he can do at the professional level.

“I think I got a shot,” Artis-Payne said in October. “It’s not really something I’m focused on, but in the back of my mind I know that opportunity is coming.”

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He’s likely to get an opportunity, but he’ll probably have to wait until Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) of the three-day draft. According to, Artis-Payne ranks 11th among draft-eligible running backs.

With the First Pick, our friends on the FanSided Network that cover the NFL Draft, provided an in-depth scouting report for Artis-Payne, which calls him a “potential steal for a team on Day 3.”

Whether he falls to the late rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft, or even fails to hear his name called on draft day, there’s a precedent for unheralded running backs to develop into stars.

For example, Terrell Davis was drafted in the sixth round, but ran for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first four professional seasons, including 2,008 yards in 1998 and helped the Denver Broncos capture two Super Bowls. Furthermore, Arian Foster went from undrafted free agent to one of the best players in the game, with four 1,000-yard seasons in the past five years and is a 2014 Pro Bowler.

Will Cameron Artis-Payne be the next unheralded draft pick turned NFL superstar?

It’s too early to say, but he has the skill set and track record to do it.

Next: Can Nick Marshall Set One More Record in the Outback Bowl?

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