2015 NFL Combine Preview: Auburn Quarterback, Cornerback Nick Marshall


The 2015 NFL Combine begins this week in Indianapolis, and quarterback/defensive back Nick Marshall is one of seven Auburn football players that will participate in the event.

What Did Nick Marshall Do at Auburn?

In two seasons as Auburn’s starting quarterback, Nick Marshall led the Tigers to an 18-7 record in 25 starts.

Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; South squad defensive corner Nick Marshall of Auburn (14) during South squad Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

He helped turn around an Auburn football program that suffered through a 3-9 season in 2012 and quarterbacked the team to the 2013 SEC Championship and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Georgia native completed 60% of his 532 career passes for 4,508 passing yards and 34 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. In the 2014 Iron Bowl against Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Marshall set a single-game school passing record with 456 yards.

One of the nation’s top dual threats behind center, Marshall also ran for 1,866 yards and 23 touchdowns, which earned him the second spot on the school’s all-time list for rushing yards by a quarterback. He also wowed fans by eluding pass rushers in the pocket and scrambling for first downs and touchdowns.

Though he was somewhat overlooked, Nick Marshall will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Auburn football history – but he may not play that position at the professional level.

What is His Current Draft Stock?

Right now, projections for Nick Marshall’s stock in the NFL Draft are all over the map – especially because there has been some confusion as to what position he will play at the next level.

“I think Marshall becomes a mid-round pick, maybe in the third or fourth round if he tests real well at the workout,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said in January.

A quarterback in junior college and at Auburn, Marshall played defensive back and on special teams as a freshman at Georgia so that the Bulldogs could utilize his athletic gifts instead of sitting on the bench behind record-setting QB Aaron Murray.

He planned to play QB at the Senior Bowl, but instead made an unexpected switch to cornerback prior to the first practice. The move impressed some talent evaluators, especially because of the guts it took to change positions with only limited training sessions as a defensive back prior to the Senior Bowl.

“He had the guts to come out to the Senior Bowl and roll the dice a little bit with about five days of practice at corner,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said this week. “Now, I know he played as a freshman and all that but to have the guts to roll out there and say I’m going to go cover some of the best wideouts in football coming off playing quarterback the last few years, that showed me something. And I liked it.”

Nick Marshall is an intriguing player, and his background as a quarterback should pay off as a defensive back in terms of football IQ, allowing him to recognize receiver’s route patterns and anticipate timing routes.

Or maybe his background as a quarterback will impress teams as… you know, a quarterback.

What Can He Improve?

Nov 29, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) throws the ball in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The consensus among most analysts is that Marshall has a brighter future in the secondary than he does as a signal caller.

However, Marshall will participate in drills with the other quarterbacks at the NFL Combine this week and will throw for scouts at the event.

At Auburn, the biggest knock on Marshall as a passer was his accuracy – despite the fact he completed more than 60% of his passes and had a 2.6-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Still, his film shows quite a few overthrown balls and other inaccurate passes to open receivers.

He’ll also have to show maturity and explain his dismissal from Georgia and the marijuana-related citation that caused him to be suspended for the first half of the 2014 season opener.

NFL Combine Objective

Marshall is at the Combine as a quarterback, but he’ll work out for teams individually as a defensive back as well.

By participating as a quarterback (which after all is the position for which he was invited), Marshall can show off his very strong arm and also appeal to teams that might have an interest in him as a multiple use player on offense – perhaps in the Denard Robinson mold as a receiver, running back, backup or Wildcat quarterback, and special teams player.

However, his main objective is to emerge with combine statistics – 40-yard dash and shuttle times, vertical leap and bench press, etc. – that measure well when compared to highly rated defensive backs while also impressing NFL talent evaluators with his intelligence and football IQ in meetings and interviews.

Easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, Nick Marshall is stuck between a rock and a hard place this week trying to be two players at once. But all it takes if for one team to fall in love with his skill set – and there’s a lot to like.

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