Running back Ronnie Brown helped lead Auburn to a 13-0 record last season, and his draft stock skyrocketed: He's now projected as a top five pick (page 50). Here he shares his thoughts and experiences with SI Players.
I'M REALLY excited about the draft. These past couple of months have been crazy with the NFL combine [in late February] and individual workouts, but I feel confident. It helps that Carnell Williams [also a potential top five pick], one of my best friends and a former teammate, was right here at Auburn with me. Every day we lifted weights and went for a run. Then we'd hang out, watch TV and play video games at my apartment. [Brown graduated in May 2004 with a degree in communications.]
I knew I had to step up at the combine because I shared time with Carnell at Auburn and didn't get as many carries as other players. Right after we won the Sugar Bowl in January, I went to Phoenix to train for two months and spent six hours a day lifting and trying to improve my 40 time. I did a lot of squats, power cleans and stretching to improve my flexibility.
Speed was a question about me, but I blew the scouts--and myself--away with my 40 time at the combine. I knew I ran pretty fast when I saw some scouts looking at their stopwatches, shaking their heads. But when they told me I had run a 4.4, I was like, "For real?" I had never run that fast and proved I could really move for a big back [6 feet, 223 pounds].
I've received a lot of attention since the combine, but I'm not letting it get to me. Two weeks ago I had lunch with the Tennessee Titans' coaches, and we talked about plays I could be involved in. That was cool, but I try not to pay attention to where I'll end up. My family is really into all that. My mom calls me every time she sees me on TV. I'm looking forward to taking care of my family [he has an older brother] after I sign my first contract.
I was drafted as a baseball player in 2000 when the Seattle Mariners took me in the 42nd round out of high school in Cartersville, Ga. But I came to Auburn and gave up baseball, and this NFL draft feels very different. Carnell and I have a wager: Whoever gets drafted later has to pick up the tab for a nice dinner.
DANNY TURNER (BROWN)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (BROWN IN ACTION)
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED IMAGING (NOTEBOOK)