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Auburn's secondary was thought to be borderline outstanding this season, but things haven't quite worked out as expected. 

The Tigers are 13th out of 14 SEC in interceptions with six. 

That's in contrast to the 2,595 passing yards and 19 touchdowns allowed, plus a defensive passer efficiency rating that ranks 95th in the nation. 

Cornerback Roger McCreary could be a first-round draft pick, safety Smoke Monday is solid against the run, and the unit was thought to have good depth with players like junior college All-American Ro Torrence.

Yet they Tigers have been yielding 7.27 yards per attempt, and 235.9 per game, heading into Alabama. The Crimson Tide is eighth in the nation in passing yards, and second in passing efficiency. 

During last year's matchup, cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett broke up two passes and had two tackles during Alabama's 42-13 victory. 

“Really a versatile player,” linebacker Owen Pappoe told reporters before the season opener. “He is one of the fastest dudes on the team too. Very athletic. Just seeing him grow, coming out of his shell, is exciting to see."

“Obviously, he is a very fast guy, great technique,” defensive lineman Colby Wooten said. “He can do it all. He is able to play inside, outside. He’s able to do a lot of different things. Just a great player, man. I’m excited to see what he does this season."

The matchup we hope to get to see a few times in the Iron Bowl is Pritchett against Crimson Tide speedster Jameson Williams. 

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Nehemiah Pritchett

Jersey: No. 18
Position: Cornerback
Height: 6-1
Weight: 179
DOB: 2/11/01
Draft eligible: 2022
Hometown: Jackson, Alabama
High School: Jackson

Pros

Good-sized corner who uses his length to his advantage consistently. Plays with great eyes and awareness in zone. Multiple occasions of him crossing into the middle of the field and clearly communicating and rotating back to an open zone. Great patience in his backpedal, trusting his athleticism to turn and run at the best moment. Timing in his hip turns and hand usage in press. Rarely misses with his hand placement when making contact at the release. Willingness to compete in the run game on the edges.

Cons

Patience in his backpedal is sometimes too safe, resulting in cushions that are too big in down and distance situations where coverage needs to be tighter. Will focus more on stacking and driving a receiver back, rather than shedding the block and attempting to make the tackle sooner. Plays a guessing game of timing when playing the ball in the air and results in unnecessary PI calls.

Summary

Versatile, athletic corner who excels in press and off man and is heady in zone. Listed at 6’1, 179, Pritchett is lean but good sized for an outside corner. He runs well down the field with receivers and changes directions swiftly. His coverage is generally sticky, relying on his technique and twitchy hips. He shows discipline and patience at the release in press coverage, keeping his eyes up and timing his hand placement well. While press coverage is a strong point of his game, his ability to stay low in his backpedal suits him best to play off-man coverage at the next level. He played to the boundary and the field in 2020, and even logged some snaps at nickel and played well at all positions. One thing he can afford to improve at is his ball skills. Pritchett loves to play the ball through the receiver’s hands rather than turning his head and either forcing a turnover or batting the ball down before the offensive player has a shot at it. With this, Pritchett’s style of play can help his recovery on double moves but can also make him susceptible to playing the hands way too early resulting in penalties. With only one year under his belt as a consistent starter, Pritchett has played well but has shown a very high ceiling if he can continue to match up well against the more athletic wide receivers on his schedule.

Grades

7.6 (current value)/ 8.6 (potential value)

BamaCentral Analysis

Pritchett's been pretty quiet this season, and not just because of his personality. Recently, he's spent more time at nickel, with Jaylin Simpson at corner, and has just two tackles over the last five games. While Pritchett's versatility might help his draft stock, his numbers have been pretty mundane this season: 22 tackles, three passes broken up and no interceptions. He's been more noticeable on special teams, where he had 165 kick-return yards against Georgia State, and he returned Wooden's field-goal block against Alabama State 80 yards for his first career score. He also had a fumble on the opening kickoff against Mississippi State, but the Tigers recovered.   

All this week, BamaCentral will profile numerous Auburn players as the Crimson Tide prepares to face the rival Tigers in the Iron Bowl . Also check out NFL Draft Bible for more evaluations.

DL Derick Hall

CB Roger McCreary

RB Shaun Shivers