A former MVP, a SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first string NFL corner walk in to a bar. What do they all have in common? Well, they are all former Auburn Tiger football players of course.The MVP (Cam Newton), the Defensive Player of the Year (Derrick Brown) and the first string corner (Carlton Davis) were impressive but not the only former Tigers to make an impact this weekend. Familiar faces on new teams, unproven rookies making their debut and wily vets making an impact – Auburn was all over the NFL in week one.
Cam Newton | New England Patriots
On Sunday, Cam Newton posted his best QB rating (79.7) since week 11 of the 2018 season. Newton went 15-of-19 with 155 passing yards and ran for 75 yards on 15 carries. Is his touchdown celebration ode to the Wakandan king a symbol for his return to superhuman, MVP levels of play? Perhaps not, but the eccentric QB looked collected when passing the ball and flashy when running it – leading the Patriots to a 21-11 victory over the Dolphins. If anything, it does not appear that Bill Belichick and Co. will be bereft of any creativity in terms of how to use the versatile QB. However, they were playing the Dolphins; and while Newton played a near flawless game, the Patriots left much to be desired in terms of the passing game. Next week’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks – with Bobby Wagner and newly acquired safety Jamal Adams surely keying in on Newton – will be a true glimpse into the trajectory of the Patriots’ season.
Darius Slayton | New York Giants
Probably the second best performance from an Auburn alumnus over the weekend goes to Slayton. The 2018 graduate brought in two touchdown grabs en route to his six-catch, 102-yard performance on Monday night. As a 5th round draft pick, Slayton has delightfully inserted himself into the No. 1 receiver conversation – recording team highs in both reception yards and touchdowns since being drafted. He has to put together a more complete body of work to solidify himself as a go-to receiver, something that will prove difficult in a Giants offense which is loaded with weapons. Still, Slayton is emerging as one of the best deep threats in the game and looks like one the biggest steals of the 2019 draft.
Peyton Barber | The Washington Football Team
Barber is what he is: a good running back who can thrive in goal-line carry situations. The Washington Football Team appears to already know that, as Barber rushed for 29 yards and two touchdowns in their upset win over the Eagles on Sunday. Barber will never be a bell cow running back but can provide value for a team that is limited in backfield depth.
Noah Igbinoghene | Miami Dolphins
Igbinoghene’s impact didn’t show up on the stat sheet Sunday. The 2020 first round pick registered only two tackles for the whole game. Even though Miami lost the game, the Igbinoghene and the secondary held Newton and the Patriots offense to a pedestrian 155 yards passing. If Igbinoghene can develop into a reliable third cover option, the Dolphins could have one of the best secondaries in the league.
Daniel Carlson | Las Vegas Raiders
Auburn fans know. Daniel Carlson is to kickers what Iron Man is to blockbuster superhero movies. The standard. He’s reliable with a big leg and doesn’t let a missed kick or slump get into his head. Carlson went 2-for-2 on field goals, including a career long 54-yarder in Sunday’s win versus the Panthers. Take that Mike Zimmer.
Derrick Brown | Carolina Panthers
So, Brown didn’t post Aaron Donald-type numbers in his NFL debut. Bummer. But, when he made his first professional tackle, I’m pretty sure I felt a shift in the tectonic plates. The mountainous defensive lineman probably felt like he was right back in college, facing double teams for most of the game. However, he still managed to flash his first-round draft quality with three tackles, one for loss, and a swatted pass.
Carlton Davis & Jamel Dean | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs may have lost the game, but the starting defensive back pair of Davis and Dean performed better than expected in their week one matchup versus the New Orleans Saints. Last year, Saints receiver Michael Thomas presented a matchup nightmare for all opposing defenses that he faced. Davis took his assignment for most of the game and turned the near indefensible Thomas into a non-factor – holding the premier pass-catcher to three receptions for 17 yards. Combined, the pair had 11 solo tackles, and Dean just nearly missed intercepting Drew Brees as the 41-year-old’s diminishing arm strength was just enough to get the ball over his outstretched fingertips.
C.J. Uzomah, Carl Lawson & Josh Bynes | Cincinnati Bengals
The last time we saw Joe Burrow he was dominating the college world with the swagger of an unbeaten heavyweight champ. He looked rather average in his NFL debut sunday – a Bengals jersey can bring anyone down. Still, however, former Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah proved to be a reliable set of hands for the often pressured Burrow. Uzomah caught four passes for 45 yards; solid numbers for the six-year vet. His teammate and former Auburn standout at defensive end, Carl Lawson, recorded five tackles, one for loss, and one sack. Bynes, in his 10th season in the NFL, finished with eight tackles and a sack in the Bengals’ 16-13 loss to the Chargers.
Rookies Daniel Thomas (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Jack Driscoll (Philadelphia Eagles) both made their NFL debuts – technically – but failed to see the field. Likewise, 2020 second round pick Marlon Davidson (Atlanta Falcons) missed action as he is still recovering from a knee injury.