Alabama Prospects to Watch:
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama enters this game as the number one ranked team in the country and defending national champion. While they are breaking in a freshman quarterback on offense, their defense is littered with NFL starting quality talent at every level.
Offensive Tackle Cam Robinson-
The NFL has been awaiting Robinson’s arrival since his breakout freshman season. However, he may just be the best of a bad bunch rather than a franchise talent. He does have the desired size, length and athleticism to play the left tackle position in the NFL. He is a quality run blocker with the strength to move his man off the ball and the quickness to get to the second level. In pass protection, he shows excellent hand usage and uses his length well to protect his outside. But before Seahawk fans start drooling at the possibility of drafting him to replace turnstile extraordinaire Bradley Sowell, remember that he has several crucial flaws that may prevent him from being anything more than league average in the NFL.
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First off, Robinson was arrested for illegal possession of stolen firearms as well as a narcotics charge. While the district attorney declined to pursue charges, this may put a damper on some teams’ interest. He is heavy footed and may lack adequate footwork to succeed at left tackle. In addition, he tends to lunge in pass protection. He followed up his stellar freshman year with a lackluster sophomore year, allowing constant pressure.
Due to playing for Alabama, Robinson is very experienced against top pass rushers like Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, and Georgia’s Leonard Floyd. He also benefits from facing Tim Williams, Jon Allen, and Ryan Anderson in practice every day. Inconsistencies in his technique may limit his potential at the next level. Robinson will probably go in the top 20, but I wouldn’t touch him until the back end of the first round.
Defensive Tackle Dalvin Tomlinson-
After losing several interior defensive linemen, Tomlinson is finally getting his share of snaps amongst Alabama’s loaded line. Tomlinson is 6’3, 307 pounds and excels as a run stopper. However, he can push the pocket in the passing game as well. He has transformed himself from a rotational piece to a draftable prospect.
He is clearly respected in the locker room, as he was named a team captain this season. A former wrestler, Tomlinson uses exceptional hands and incredible functional strength to move his opponents off the ball. He continued to stand out when watching A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and the rest of ‘Bama’s defensive linemen on film. Tomlinson is definitely worth a late round flier as a rotational defensive lineman who can stop the run. He is someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Outside Linebacker Tim Williams-
Williams is one of my favorite prospects and arguably the best pass rusher in the draft. He is a dynamic athlete who thrives when rushing the passer. His electrifying motor, elite quickness and power, top notch hand usage and a dazzling array of moves make him a terror for opposing offensive linemen. Here’s the 6’4, 252 pound Williams knocking a Michigan State tackle into next week:
Williams does come with some issues that may push him further down the draft board. Due to Alabama’s impressive collection of talent on the defensive line, Williams only had 148 pass rush attempts last season. Although he made good use of those snaps, averaging a pressure every 2.8 snaps, Williams must evolve and learn to stop the run in the NFL.
Also, Williams was recently arrested for carrying a handgun without a permit. How this affects his draft stock, I do not know. But, I can assure you that teams will account for it when evaluating Williams.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey-
A redshirt sophomore, Humphrey is the total package at the cornerback position. His combination of size, speed, length, physicality, and athleticism put him atop a stacked defensive back class.
Beyond that, Humphrey is a little raw. He struggles to locate the football in the air. Humphrey does use his size to his advantage, but sometimes he can get too physical and draw some pass interference calls. His football IQ and love for the game is a huge plus and may help him avoid a Dee Milliner like NFL career. Like Richard Sherman, sometimes Humphrey would run the receivers route for him and end up with an interception. USA Today’s Draft Wire even mocked Humphrey to the Seahawks, saying:
"“Pete Carroll loves stocking his defense with long, tall corners. At 6-1 and with NFL bloodlines, Humphrey is exactly the kind of cover man who could give Seattle another shut-down artist across the field from Richard Sherman, forcing opposing quarterbacks to pick their poison.”"
Humphrey is an athletic, physical cornerback with long arms, so it is natural that he will be linked to Seattle. However, is Humphrey unique enough to consider picking a cornerback in the 1st round? We’ll find out.