Alabama Crimson Tide 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Preview


Aug 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) throws the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first quarter of the 2013 Chick-fil-a Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

10 QB A.J. McCarron (6’3″ 214 pounds, SENIOR)

2013 Pre-season notes

McCarron had an unbelievable junior campaign in 2012 on his way to leading the Crimson Tide to another National Title. He finished with just under 3,000 yards passing, 30 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. My biggest concern with McCarron? His performance in some of the Tide’s biggest games last season. It’s hard to knock a guy who plays on such a dominant team, but there is no question about it, his production dipped when Alabama played teams like Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, and Georgia. Then, he came out and played the game of his life against Notre Dame in the National Championship game.

It’s tough to get a read on McCarron, but this is what I know for sure: The guy has the mental toughness to be a good NFL quarterback. He has a strong arm and is capable of making every throw. He throws a lot of quick passes at Alabama, and he’s very efficient with the football. He doesn’t make bad decisions often, and I think that will translate well to the NFL. Not afraid to take risks or take big shots down the field, and has a great competitive drive. I think looking at the Senior quarterback class of 2014, McCarron is a guy who stands out on one of the most talented teams we’ve seen in decades of college football. He is the team’s leader, and he backs that up on the field with his arm. Based on what we saw this past year, I would venture to say McCarron is a first round prospect who could cement that status with another good year.

The biggest thing with this guy is, he is a proven winner at the college level and he has the arm talent to play in the NFL. That’s a good combo to have but he will need to “prove it” with his performance in 2013.

2012 Notes

McCarron has been a leader on an Alabama team that is one of the best teams in the entire country. He has pretty much everything that you look for in a quarterback prospect in terms of measurables, coming from a pro-style offense, intangibles, etc. Alabama is certainly not a pass happy offense by any means, but McCarron has proven in just a short amount of time that he is capable of making any kind of throw. He has a strong arm and a quick release, and while his numbers aren’t staggering, he has some really good experience and a national championship as a starting quarterback, a game in which he was an offensive MVP over Heisman finalist Trent Richardson.

He really got better as last season progressed, which is encouraging. He is only a junior in 2012, so he could still potentially have two years of college left. Doesn’t lock in on specific receivers, and does a good job of distributing to the plethora of talent on Alabama’s roster. He is going to have a great offensive line once again this year and should be very productive. As a young quarterback, efficiency and minimizing mistakes was the name of his game. He will always have great running backs behind him, but he can grow as a passer and I think that Alabama will let him loose a bit as a junior, which could cause his overall efficiency to take a slight dip.

71 OT Cyrus Kouandjio (6’5″ 310 pounds, JUNIOR)

Cyrus Kouandjio is one of the top offensive line prospects as an underclassmen looking ahead to the 2014 NFL Draft. He has only started one season for the Crimson Tide, and had a season ending injury in 2011 to his knee, but there are not many more big men with this much potential in college football. Coming out of high school, Kouandjio was a highly touted prep prospect who was deciding between Alabama and Auburn for his college choice, and after tinkering around with those two schools and the Iowa Hawkeyes program, Kouandjio decided to play for national powerhouse Alabama. As a sophomore, he did not disappoint.

For his size, Kouandjio is an exceptional athlete. He is nimble on his feet and while he needs to show improvement in this area, he really excels in pass protection allowing just 3.5 sacks in his first year as a starter at Alabama. Obviously played with a ton of talented players up front, but will be one of the leaders on the team in 2013 with Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones, and D.J. Fluker leaving for the NFL.

61 OG Anthony Steen (6’3″ 312 pounds, SENIOR)

Steen has been a full-time starter on one of the best offensive lines in all of college football since he was a freshman, when he became a starter in the final two games of the season. Big, powerful guard prospect who was among the top players at his position in the country as a junior, when he contemplated leaving early for the NFL. On an offensive line where he should have been considered a weakness with two 2o13 first rounders in Chance Warmack, and a guy whom I believe to be an NFL starter in Barrett Jones, Steen stood out as the best player last year. That also includes junior phenom Cyrus Kouandjio, who is certain to be a first round pick in 2014 or 2015. Among the stellar offensive line play at Alabama, Steen stood out because he was the only one last year to not have a penalty or a sack allowed in 14 games. No one else on the offensive line can claim those types of accolades, but this is a kid who didn’t even get picked for an All-American or All-SEC team.

I think right now, I would view Steen as a solid second or third round pick, and even higher if he can prove his dominance last year wasn’t a fluke. This is a top notch guard who leads quietly, and will be a very good starter in the NFL.

83 WR Kevin Norwood (6’2″ 195 pounds, SENIOR)

Taller, leaner receiver prospect who is a fifth year senior that has improved every year he’s been part of the Alabama program. While Amari Cooper stole the spotlight in 2012, Norwood showed solid improvement, catching a career high 29 passes for 461 yards and four touchdowns. He knows how to go up and make a play, averaging nearly 16 yards per reception. Solid route runner whose production is a bit diminished because of the way the Alabama offense is run. I think as of right now, before the season, Norwood looks like a mid-late round prospect who will need a big breakout year statistically to jump off the charts a little bit. He is a pretty polished overall receiver who can make plays on a consistent basis, and in a variety of ways. Has good hands and comes up with big plays at clutch times for the Crimson Tide. Not the flashiest receiver prospect, but he can make his presence known as a senior if he can get up to near 1,000 yards.

49 DL Ed Stinson (6’4″ 282 pounds, SENIOR)

Big, long defensive line prospect who is likely best fit as a five technique with a 3-4 team in the NFL. Returning leader and fifth year senior on a defensive line that will anchor one of the top defensive units in all of college football. Very good run-stuffing defensive lineman who had 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012 as a junior. Stinson became a full time starter in 2012 after playing a big part in the Alabama rotation as a sophomore, even earning two starts as a redshirt freshman. He is expected to contend for All-SEC honors as a senior. As an NFL prospect, he could be a first or second round DE in a 3-4. After spending Sundays working the merchandise booth at Dolphins games as a high school kid in Miami, Stinson will now be on the field. Saw a great rise in his status as a prospect this past year, jumping from being a relative unknown to being one of the top senior DE prospects in the country. Good athlete being a former linebacker.

32 LB C.J. Mosley (6’2″ 232 pounds, SENIOR)

2013 pre-season report

We were looking for Mosley to break out as a junior in 2012, and that’s exactly what he did. After sharing the starting job with Nico Johnson, Mosley became a full time starter at WILB where he was absolutely dominant, earning consensus first-team All-American and All-SEC honors in his junior season. In his All-American season, he had 107 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, and a defensive touchdown on one of those picks. He was selected as the team’s defensive player of the week nine times last season, on a team that has stud after stud. This guy is the real deal, and he has scheme versatility. I think he is athletic enough to play OLB in a 4-3 defense, or could even play ILB in a four-man front. He is obviously well-versed in playing in a dominant 3-4 defense, so he could transition to the NFL and play in that scheme as well.

Does a good job of  taking on blocks and shedding linemen to make plays. Has good anticipation skills and doesn’t let very much get past him. Very good at making plays behind the line of scrimmage and being used in blitzing situations. This is a player that never comes off the field and has been called the most dynamic player on the Alabama defense. He can cover, he can make plays behind the line, and he can be a force against the run. This is just a really instinctive linebacker prospect who does a lot of things really well. He is a first-round caliber prospect because of his scheme diversity, athletic ability, and the fact that he never has to come off the field. I am really impressed by Mosley and I think he is going to be a top 50 pick when all is said and done.

2012 pre-season report

Mosley came to Alabama and had a phenomenal freshman season in 2010 where he finished with 67 tackles, 10 passes broken up, and two interceptions, both for touchdowns. The Freshman All-American and freshman All-SEC performer came back as a sophomore and slightly regressed statistically, sharing the starting inside linebacker job with Nico Johnson. I would say, of Alabama’s draft-eligible linebackers, Mosley probably has some of the best overall talent. He’s a fantastic athlete with great size and speed, but he had just 36 tackles as a sophomore. Mosley has some injury concerns but he is a very good player who can break out as a top linebacker talent for the 2012 season.

42 OLB Adrian Hubbard (6’5″ 252 pounds, JUNIOR)

Very intriguing prospect who came onto the scene last season at Alabama as a sophomore, and considered leaving after the season for the NFL. Still has a lot to prove at the collegiate level, but showed flashes of brilliance in a season where he racked up 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in addition to his 41 tackles and three forced fumbles. Good size and length for the hybrid linebacker position, and his ability to rush the passer puts him right in the center of the first round discussion.

Alabama moves him all around the field, playing mostly SLB but also moving over to cover the slot, blitzing up the middle, or sometimes even coming off the weakside. Doesn’t have an elite burst off the snap, but does a good job of reading plays. If he wants to take his game to the next level, he’s going to have to just do everything faster, and that will come with time. Very intrigued to see how he improves as a second year starter.

13 CB Deion Belue (5’11” 185 pounds, SENIOR)

This is a very talented former JUCO transfer to Alabama who started all 13 games last season and finished with 40 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, one fumble returned for a touchdown, as well as seven passes broken up. He was an All-American at the JUCO level who can also return punts and is really good with the ball in his hands. The only starting senior in the Alabama secondary going into 2013 has a chance to emerge as one of the best CB prospects in the SEC. Lean frame at 5’11″ 186 pounds, and good length allows him to break up a lot of passes even if he gets slightly beat on a play. I’m intrigued to see how he measures out at the Combine.

6 S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6’1″ 208 pounds, JUNIOR)

Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix emerged as one of the top playmakers on one of the best defenses in college football as a sophomore in 2012, and looks like one of the best safety prospects in the country going into his junior season. He has good size at 6’1″ 208 pounds, and is a rangy playmaker who had four interceptions last season. Good looking safety prospect who has a ton of potential. Should be one of the best at his position when he decides to leave school.