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Three may be the magic number when it comes to Auburn redshirt sophomore Colby Wooden.

This will take a little explaining, though. 

Earlier this season, Wooden was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week in consecutive games. 

He notched two sacks during Auburn's 38-23 win at Arkansas on Oct. 16, and then during his team's next game had five tackles, including four solo, and a quarterback hurry to help lead the 31-20 victory over Ole Miss. 

So far, it's probably the high point of what may be his last season on the Plains. 

"My time here has been fun," Wooden recently told reporters. "Freshman year, sitting down learning from Derrick [Brown] and Marlon [Davidson], taking time to see how to approach the game, how to play it. Then last year kind of dipping my toe in and getting acclimated and seeing how SEC ball is and how fun it can be.

"Last year was almost like re-finding your love for the game. Coming from high school and being that guy to freshman year sitting down to last year playing, and you’re winning, to this year we just keep getting better and better as the weeks go on."

Wooden made that comment before Auburn lost three straight games, at Texas A&M, to Mississippi State and at South Carolina. 

In all three games, he had three tackles. 

That's also the number of tackles Wooden had during last year's 42-13 loss to Alabama.

"Colby Wooden is a talented guy. He's someone who works hard every day," Auburn center Nick Brahms said. "He gives 100 percent effort every play, so you definitely have to bring it when you go against him. He's a finesse guy, but he's also got some power to him, and you've got to respect that as an offensive lineman. 

"So he's a heck of a player; I'm glad he's on our team. He's an asset, for sure."

Cory Ezring and Lorenz Leinweber profiled Wooden for NFL Draft Bible. Both evaluations are included: 

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Colby Wooden

Jersey: No. 25
Position: Defensive lineman 
Height: 6-5
Weight: 278
DOB: 12/21/00
Draft eligible: 2022
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia
High School: Archer

Background:

A standout athlete at Archer High School, the now Auburn star helped lead his team to the state Class 7A semifinals. He also received first-team all-state, all-county and all-region honors. After his stellar high school career, Wooden was listed as a four-star recruit by 247Sports Composite Rankings. The same service named him the 345th-overall recruit nationally, the 22nd-best weak-side defensive end in the class and the 38th-ranked player from Georgia in his year. Despite redshirting during his true freshman 2019 season, Wooden played in three games. He recorded four tackles and one tackle for loss. The Archer product broke out in 2020 with 41 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss (good for third in the SEC) and four sacks. He also defended one pass. Since enrolling early at Auburn, Wooden has grown substantially. First named on the Tigers’ roster in 2018 thanks to his early enrollment, Wooden was listed at 6-4 and 239 pounds. Entering the 2021 season, the school had him at 6-5, 275. 

Pros

Ezring: Auburn’s 2021 defense is loaded with NFL Draft prospects. Among them, third-year sophomore Colby Wooden had a breakout season in 2020. A well-built player with experience out of a two and three-point stance, the Georgia native plays across the Tigers’ defensive line. Upon contact, Wooden exhibits active hands and works to keep opponents’ punches off his chest. Late into the snap, he disengages with hand counters. The talented defensive end has the length to establish and manage distance; when setting the edge, he uses leverage and his long arms to stack and window linemen. Similarly, Wooden shows glimpses of power when he combines his length with leverage to bench press offensive linemen and walk through tight ends. Against the run, the athletic defender flashes the anchor to eat space. Further, the intriguing defensive end boasts a reasonable first step out of his stance, especially when working up the interior. What’s more, he penetrates with that burst to impact the run game by disrupting the ball carrier’s path. When offensive tackles attempt to engage with stagnant feet, Wooden blows by them with short-area quickness. As a rush three-tech, the Archer product displays impressive speed moves up the interior. His swim move is particularly effective. Finally, Wooden plays with a hot motor in every phase of the game. He chases plays down and can track ball carriers to the sideline.

Leinweber: Lining up as anywhere from seven to three-technique for the Tigers, Wooden uses a double hand swipe to beat the punch of slow guards. In the run game, he takes advantage of guards taking bad angles by beating them with an arm-over move. When Wooden is able to stay low and gain inside hand positioning he has the strength required to stand blockers up.

Cons

Ezring: While the Auburn defensive lineman offers intriguing movement skills, his game is plagued by underdeveloped technique and inefficacy. Wooden’s hands are often late and inaccurate. He rarely initiates contact and exhibits a limited set of rush moves. His unrefined pass rush plans leave him primarily reliant on counters. Further, Wooden must learn to read an offensive tackle’s inside shoulder to better threaten the inside track. Moreover, the Georgia native does not use salesmanship in his rushes. Additionally, his high pad level and poor weight distribution lead to insufficient balance. Wooden frequently works too far upfield in his pass rush and against the run. The Auburn standout’s most concerning trait is his power. He lacks the lower body strength to create a push; conversely, offensive linemen control and displace him too easily. He even has trouble against some tight ends and running backs. Although Wooden is slowed by contact to his frame, his improper technique and pad level invite hands to his chest. What’s more, his limited change of direction allows opponents to mirror him. Wooden is unable to corner or bend the edge up the outside track. In run defense, he plays with concerning gap discipline. He fails to read the mesh point with any regularity and often misdiagnoses plays. As a tackler, Wooden targets the ball carrier’s inside leg, does not wrap up and has below-average grip strength.

Leinweber: A below-average athlete throughout, his first step and burst do not threaten offensive linemen. Wooden is unable to stay square when moving laterally, having to turn his body due to ankle stiffness. His balance is poor as he frequently falls over due to him leaning. Offensive linemen gain access to his frame because he does not beat their punch. Wooden lacks a sufficient anchor, getting displaced vertically and blown up by combo blockers. His poor hand violence prevents him from disengaging from blockers. He struggles with tight ends playing slow. Wooden possesses below average length, allowing blockers to outreach him and latch. He is not alert, running into cut blocks.

Summary:

Ezring: An impressive mover who has room to grow with experience, Colby Wooden’s projection to the NFL is fairly cloudy. His raw game renders him ineffective against the pass and inconsistent against the run. What’s more, his underwhelming power profile limits his upside in the league. Still, the defender’s athleticism offers an intriguing base. He lacks scheme and positional versatility. Wooden projects as a pure 3-4 defensive end who can kick inside on rush downs.

Leinweber: Thick defensive end who has been adding weight throughout his collegiate career to move further inside. Wooden is versatile and flashes the ability to win the leverage battle. His athleticism is below average and he plays slowly, preventing him from disengaging. Wooden projects as a camp body at 3-4 defensive end who is difficult to project due to his body transformation. At the moment he lacks sufficient traits to stick on a practice squad.

Grades

Ezring: 5.7 (current value)/ 6.8 (potential value)

Leinweber: 5.2 / 5.4

BamaCentral Analysis

When people wonder about the real difference between the SEC and other leagues, it's players like Wooden in the trenches. NFL teams will have to decide if he's a better fit at end or in the interior in their schemes, but regardless he's having another standout season. Wooden had 46 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss and four sacks, along with seven hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He blocked an Alabama State field-goal attempt that was recovered by Nehemiah Pritchett for a 80-yard return and Auburn's first blocked field goal for a touchdown since Neiko Thorpe in 2009. Wooden will need to be a bigger factor for Auburn to have a chance to pull the upset at home. 

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

DL Derick Hall

CB Roger McCreary

RB Shaun Shivers

Three may be the magic number when it comes to Auburn redshirt sophomore Colby Wooden.

This will take a little explaining, though. 

Earlier this season, Wooden was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week in consecutive games. 

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