2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Auburn DL Colby Wooden

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Auburn DL Colby Wooden.

#25 Colby Wooden, DL, Auburn (R-Junior) – 6050, 284lb

Combine Invite


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Colby Wooden 6’5, 284lb N/A N/A N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press

The Good

— Has the frame and arm length you desire in a defensive lineman
— Experienced defender who has played all over the defensive front
— Athletic DL that moves easier than most at his size
— Possesses good play strength to shock back blocker at the point of attack
— Has an effective bull rush to walk back centers and guards into the lap of the QB
— Heavy-handed defender that can control blockers when he lands first contact
— Utilizes a push/pull move to get off blocks and into the backfield
— Wins with a two-hand swipe move as a pass rusher
— Capable of shooting gaps as a penetrator to cause disruption
— Does a great job collapsing the pocket from the middle, putting pressure on the QB
— Motor runs hot as a pass rusher, relentlessly pursuing the QB
— Does a good job getting hands up in passing lanes
— Has special teams value, having blocked a kick during his time at Auburn

The Bad

— Can stand to add weight to his frame, having a lean lower half
— Lacks pure explosiveness and fluidity to quickly change directions
— Will pop straight up into the air at times, losing his leverage
— Feet will get narrow and stall occasionally on his rush, leading to lost balance and ineffectiveness
— Will lunge forward into blockers rather than attacking them with eyes up
— Can be more consistent with hand placement and punch
— Will allow blockers into his chest neutralizing him for the rep
— Attempts to try and spin off blocks, giving ground and losing sight of the football
— Can stand to have his motor against the pass translate more to run defense


— Redshirt Junior Prospect from Lawrenceville, Ga.
— Born December 21, 2000 (age 22)
— Was named the GHSA Region 8-AAAAA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in high school
— Four-star prospect that enrolled at Auburn in January early for spring ball
— Saw action in three games as a true freshman and made six total tackles (4 solo) and 0.5 TFLs before redshirting
— Started 11 games at DT in 2020 and made 41 total tackles (19 solo), nine TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and a pass deflection
— Started 13 games in 2021 and racked up 61 total tackles (34 solo), 8.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, two PBUs, and a fumble recovery
— Started 12 games in 2022 and logged 45 total stops (36 solo), 11.5 TFLs, six sacks, three PBUs, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles
— SEC All-Freshman team (2020)
— Business major

Tape Breakdown

Colby Wooden is a three-year starter for the Auburn Tigers that brings the body type and versatility teams look for in defensive linemen. He played all over the defensive front for the Tigers, lining head-up on the center to all the way out on the edge on occasion. Wooden has the size, height, and length that is attractive to teams, standing nearly 6’5, 284lb with the arm length to establish first contact on blockers. Wooden has the upper body strength to pair with his long arms to win with brute force as you can see on this clip against LSU where Wooden bull rushes the center into the lap of the QB for the sack.

Wooden has also developed his hand usage as a pass rusher to win with a variety of moves as you can see here with the two-hand swipe. In the first clip against LSU, Wooden quickly clears the block to get into the backfield and bring the QB down. In the second clip against Missouri, we see Wooden swipe the hands of the LG away as he rips through the gap and into the block and trips up the QB for the sack.

Here’s an example of the year prior with Wooden using an arm-over/swim move the clear the RG after getting hands on the blocker’s chest, getting to the QB, and forcing him to throw the ball away.

Colby Wooden has strong hands that pack a lot of power in his punch. He uses that power in a straight bull rush as seen above, but also when fighting off blocks like you can see on this push/pull move Wooden uses to get off the block and move laterally into the gab to wrap up the QB for the sack.

Colby Wooden also has shown to be effective at shooting gaps, working as a penetrator to wreak havoc at the LOS here are a couple of examples where Wooden works across the face of the blocker to get into the backfield and make the stop.

Still, there are several technical issues Colby Wooden needs to clean up to become a more consistent and impactful defender at the next level. Wooden has a bad habit of popping straight up at times, losing his leverage as his leg drive stalls and he exposes his chest to blockers. He will also narrow his stance and bring his feet together as you can see on this rep, limiting his balance and taking away his effectiveness on his rush.

Wooden also needs to be more cognizant of keeping blockers from getting hands onto his chest and latching onto him as he will panic when they land first contact. Watch this play where Wooden and the center he dominated on the bull rush in the previous clip engage one another at the snap of the ball. However, Wooden can’t rip off the block as the center get a hold on his torso as Wooden fails to extend his arms and rip off the block.

Another issue I see in Wooden’s game is his tendency to try and spin off blocks when his initial rush fails as you can see in this clip against Missouri. Wooden is upright with a lack of base an anchor as he tries to push the blocker back, resorting to giving ground by spinning off the block and proceeds to miss the tackle. While Wooden needs to make that tackle, I give him some grace as has had a difficult time in college regarding his development as three different coaches and points of emphasis haven’t benefitted Wooden.


Overall, Colby Wooden is a versatile, athletic defensive lineman that has played NT, DT, and DE as a three-year starter in the SEC. He has the pass rush chops to become an impactful rusher at the next level with several moves already at his disposal. Wooden also possesses pure strength and power to overwhelm blockers at the point of attack against the run as well as a pass rusher. He needs to be more consistent playing with a strong base and proper leverage and could stand to add 5-10 lbs to better hold his own as a base 3-4 DE at the next level.

When thinking of a pro comp for Wooden, Dre’Mont Jones immediately came to mind as a versatile DL that played all over for the Buckeyes before getting drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft. Wooden has better length than Jones, but Jones is a similar player, having the athleticism and strength to play inside near the center as well as outside the guard, possessing the hand usage to be a viable inside rusher while also winning with brute force.

I expect Wooden to go in a similar range this spring since he needs to tune up his fundamentals and likely strengthen his lower half. Still, he possesses the frame, athleticism and pass rush upside that is rare for that position and are all traits the Steelers highly covet. If Pittsburgh sees Wooden as a potential fit at 3-4 DE in their system, look for him to be a potential target of theirs somewhere on Day Two of the draft.

Projection: Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.3– Future Quality Starter (2nd Round)
Games Watched: vs LSU (2022), vs Missouri (2022), at LSU (2021), vs Penn State (2021)

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