It was exciting from start to finish, as the Sugar Bowl typically is. It also was replete with loads of 2014 NFL draft talent. How does the stock look for the big names?
A.J. McCarron – QB – Alabama – Stock: Down
Throwing for 387 yards and two touchdowns is usually a very good thing for a quarterback prospect, especially in a bowl game. Unfortunately, three costly turnovers proved a big difference for A.J. McCarron in his effort to go out with one more win. Two interceptions and a late fumble resulted in 21 Oklahoma points. Alabama lost the game 45-31. McCarron played brilliantly at time and suffered frequently from bad protection but his sudden inability to protect the football showed up at a bad time.
Cyrus Kouandjio – OT – Alabama – Stock: Down
Speaking of protection, another first round talent on the Crimson Tide offense who had a rough game was offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Not only was he part of a line that gave up seven sacks total, it was his inability to block with under a minute left that resulted in the decisive sequence of McCarron being strip sacked and the resulting fumble being returned for the dagger score. Kouandjio is still very young and learning, but this game did not do him any favors.
C.J. Mosley – ILB – Alabama – Stock: Up
One of the few bright spots on the Alabama defense was their leader, C.J. Mosley. The linebacker demonstrated his intelligence and athleticism throughout the game, often getting pressure when blitzing and sliding down the line of scrimmage to clean up tackles. Penalties and turnovers didn’t do his unit any favors and his stock may suffer for a short time because of the scoreboard but Mosley reaffirmed he is one of the best all-around linebackers in the country.
Aaron Colvin – CB – Stock: Up
Having a legitimate number one cornerback can do so much for a defense. While McCarron enjoyed a nice yardage night, the presence of Aaron Colvin on the Sooners defense was clearly felt as Alabama didn’t attack him very often. He also demonstrated excellent hustle, running down a Crimson Tide receiver on a breakaway that would’ve resulted in a touchdown. Instead it was only three points. Colvin also made his presence felt in the pass rush, blitzing frequently and harassing McCarron.
Gabe Ikard – C – Stock: Up
Alabama clearly has a problem defending freshman quarterbacks but in truth a big reason Oklahoma freshman Trevor Knight threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns was because of good pass protection. At the heart of it was standout center Gabe Ikard who stood up to the Alabama rush and then demonstrated his athleticism by getting out to block on screens, which the Sooners used to great effect. He is definitely going to interest teams when the 2014 NFL draft kicks off.
Jalen Saunders – WR – Stock: Up
Often overlooked by scouts because he stands a paltry 5’9″, Jalen Saunders knows in order to gain recognition he has to make impact plays. This he did for Oklahoma, hauling in five passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. His speed was clearly on display, hauling in a 43-yard bomb at one point from Knight. Saunders may not go in the high rounds, but this game could get him a bump in pay by going in the middle rounds.