Michigan at Alabama Preview: Players to Watch


College Football has already begun, but it really gets started tonight when the Michigan Wolverines travel down to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. While the game will be fun to watch as a whole, the game is filled with N.F.L. prospects on both teams. There’ll undoubtedly be some players who also make a case for themselves tonight after being much of an after thought to this point.

The biggest name on Michigan is clearly Denard Robinson and if Robinson even wants a chance at being at quarterback in the N.F.L. he is going to have be worlds better throwing the ball than he was last year–tonight is a great opportunity. More likely though teams will be looking at Robinson to see what kind of N.F.L. receiver and return man he can be. Robinson is quick and elusive in the open field. Robinson will not display his catching ability so he’s very much a projection. Is Robinson Antwan Randel El in his prime?  Right now he’s probably sitting as an early day three prospect.

The best prospect on the Wolverines on the other hand is their big L.T. Taylor Lewan. Lewan is very tall and will have to prove to teams that he can bend properly and  move quickly enough to handle speed rushers in the N.F.L., but also functionally strong enough to handle bull rushers too. He is slender for a huge guy right now, listed at 6’8 308 pounds, I’ll look to see if he’s gotten any bigger since last year. Lewan has drawn comparisons already to Jake Long and while I think that’s a bit of a stretch he’s poised for a huge season and potentially a top 20 pick.

WR Roy Roundtree

Roundtree isn’t helped by Robinson’s quarterbacking style, but he has already put  together enough film to get drafted on day three. He just has to continue to show that he can make tough catches, be a good route runner, and has enough explosion to make plays at the N.F.L. level.

Craig Roh, Defensive End

Roh is a talented, athletic defensive end I have very high hopes for in this upcoming season. I personally feel he has enough physical ability to eventually warrant a day two selection, but he has to be more productive this season. He hasn’t put up stellar numbers up to this point at Michigan and has put moved all over which might have hurt his development some. Roh will be going up against a talented Alabama OL and tonight is a good night to get himself noticed.

Talented running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is suspended for tonight’s game.

For more Michigan prospects check out our preseason preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide have so many talented defenders it might take me weeks to write a preview, but I’ll highlight some of the players to watch tonight.

I’ll start on the offensive line where the Crimson Tide has a chance of putting two players into the first round of the 2013 N.F.L. draft. D.J. Fluker is not only talented, but he might be the most talented offensive tackle in the country. He’ll be battling Lewan, Luke Jockel, Jake Matthews and others to be the first offensive tackle selected next year. Barrett Jones showcased his ability last year when he was a draftnik first round projected OT. I’m not sure he’s a first round talent, but his versatility will definitely appeal to teams. He’s going to be playing center for the Crimson Tide this year and could be on a team like the New York Giants radar who want their linemen to be able to play multiple positions. Chance Warmack also has a chance to be drafted very highly, but probably not in the first round.

What do Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson,  Eddie Lacey does it ever end? The talent at running back for the Tide has been ridiculous. Lacey carries the torch for recently departed Ingram. I think most people would put Lacey’s talent in between Ingram and Richardson’s talent level, but unlike Ingram and Richardson he hasn’t proved it as the feature back for an entire season.

The Crimson Tide make their money on defense and it’s one of the Nation’s best.

Returning starting linebacker Nico Johnson is looking to bump up his draft stock, he can do by showcasing more pass rushing ability. Johnson has good size at 6’2 245 pounds for a linebacker.

Alabama is also very talented in the secondary where they have returning safety Robert Lester who is part of an impressive safety class. Lester needs to showcase his impressive range and playmaking ability if he wants a shot at being drafted in the first round. The league is starved for play making ability at safety and Lester has a chance to capitalize.

Dee Milliner is the next great Alabama cornerback, perhaps a better athlete than last year’s first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick, Milliner has to improve in his ability to recognize pass patterns and diagnosing plays. Milliner is a missile in run support and has plus makeup speed. Milliner has good size as well and made some plays last year. The Wolverines don’t have a ton in major hurdles at WR, but we’ll get to look at Milliner’s run support ability tonight.

Defensive tackle Jesse Williams looks destined to be a first round pick with his size and athleticism. He hails from Australia and has only been playing since he was 15 years old, but it doesn’t often appear that way.

Sit back and enjoy what could be one of the best games of the season and be prepared to notice other players standout that you hadn’t thought much about until now. For a look at more Alabama players, click here.

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