We here at NFLmocks are huge fans of the nfl draft. No game this bowl season has had the wealth of prospects, especially ond defense that the National Championship Game provides. Yesterday I took a look at the Alabama Offensive linemen and LSU Tigers defensive linemen who will play in the N.F.L. in the next two (or three as many are redshirt sophomores).
This morning want to take a look at another position that has a ton of talented prospects, and that is the Alabama Crimson Tide Linebacker corps. Sayre will have more on this game today as well.
The Crimson Tide have an excellent linebacker corps, the best in the nation led in the middle by Dont’a Hightower.
In the 2010 College Football season Hightower was a bit banged up and struggled at times, but this year he has been terrific for the most part and worked himself back into the first round conversation. Hightower is a very smart football player who will be responsible for making a ton of checks for the defense in this game. Hightower also has terrific size for a linebacker at 6’4 260 pounds. Hightower is extremely aggressive and physical and can play any number of spots in any number of defenses at the N.F.l. level. The thing that scouts will need to be sure of on Hightower are two fold: first can he play sideline to sideline in the N.F.L? Does he have the necessary speed and agility? And second. Will his body hold up? If so, Hightower should be drafted before the end of round two. On the season Hightower has 89 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 3 sacks.
Upshaw is going to compete with player like USC’s Nick Perry and Marshall’s Vinny Curry (among others…depends on who ends up declaring) to be the first 34 OLB to be drafted. Upshaw plays a lot of passion and is explosive off the edge. Upshaw has tremendous production this year with 17 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Upshaw needs to show teams that he has a position at the N.F.L. level though which is going to be something that could hinder his draft stock. Upshaw is 6’2 265. He doesn’t have the ideal length to play with his hand on the ground consistently at the N.F.L. level and will need to show an ability to cover a lot more to play in many 34 systems. He’s talented though and could go as high as pick number 10 in the draft.
Johnson is a jack of all trades with the Crimson Tide and has played all of the linebacker positions for the Crimson Tide. Johnson is 6’3 245 pounds and might be the fastest of the Alabama linebackers. Johnson also hasn’t shown the kind of elite production to get drafted in the first two days of the draft and might be better suited to go back another year for the Crimson Tide, become a leader at the linebacker position and improve his draft stock. A good athlete though and could be a sleeper if he enters the draft and is drafted on day three this year.
There are many things to watch for in this game, Sayre should be posting later today about the LSU Secondary and Alabama offensive play makers and the talent that is found at that position. The talent of these teams is really on the defensive side of the ball. Out of the 22 starters for each team there is at least 18, maybe as many as 20 draftable players. This isn’t the case on offense. Alabama has a good offensive line and LSU has the underrated Rueben Randle, but defense is the name of this game and it should be a great one.
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