Alabama Football: Predicting Which Underclassmen Will Declare Early for NFL

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Alabama Football: Predicting Which Underclassmen Will Declare Early for NFL
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Alabama is going to take a hit when it comes to players that want to leave early for the NFL.

With the college football season coming to a close, it is the time of year when players have to make a decision that will change their lives forever.

The players can either return for their senior season and improve on their craft, or they can bolt for the chance to become a professional football player.

When it comes to the Crimson Tide, if you were somebody that has played under Nick Saban for three years, chances are you'd be ready to move on with your life. Another season could help out some players, but Alabama has quite the history of producing quality NFL guys over the years.

With the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft quickly approaching, here are the players that the Crimson Tide will be waving goodbye to in the next few weeks.

 

Dee Milliner, CB

Milliner is without question the best player in the Alabama secondary.

In arguably the weakest spot of this defense, Milliner has shown to be great in run support, and he led the team this season with an incredible 18 broken up passes.

He is a physical player at the line and somebody that has improved his draft stock through the ceiling.

In fact, many expect Milliner to be the first Alabama player taken in the NFL draft this year. According to Todd McShay's latest mock draft, the ESPN writer has Milliner falling to No. 7 in the hands of the Detroit Lions.

A pass-rusher like Georgia's Jarvis Jones would be intriguing here, but corner is the Lions' biggest need and Milliner has the potential to be an immediate starter. He's not an elite cover corner but good enough to hold up in man coverage, and he is very good in zone. Milliner is also strong in run support, and simply a good all-around player.

With the junior corner hearing comments like this, there is little reason to remain in Alabama.

Of course, another shot at a national championship is lovely, but a chance to become a Top 10 pick in the NFL draft doesn’t come around very often.

 

C.J. Mosley, LB

Alabama has helped mature many linebackers into terrific players, and Mosley is no exception.

In 2012, he led the team with 99 tackles, picked up four sacks and also intercepted two passes. He is somebody that covers a lot of ground in a hurry and is fundamentally sound when on the football field.

Just checkout what Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo told Dog Bytes Online's Yousef Baig when having to prepare for Mosley in the SEC Championship:

He’s an athletic guy that can close space in a hurry. He’s a lot like our (Alec Ogletree) in his range on the field. He’s a guy you can’t squeeze a tight throw into a window. We’ve just got to know where he is.

If Mosely is going to be compared to Ogletree, he should certainly take off for the NFL after the national championship.

Many have the Georgia linebacker being a first round pick, including Todd McShay, who has Ogletree going within the first 20 picks come April.

 

D.J. Fluker, OT

Note: Fluker has already decided to take his talents to the NFL, according to Tony Pauline of SI.com. However, this has not been confirmed by the school or the player, which leaves the door open for the possibility of returning. With that said, I still think he is gone after the national championship.

Fluker could probably benefit from another year in college, but if you are to be considered a player taken within the first two rounds, you have to consider leaving.

The risk of injury—especially for an offensive lineman—is way too high to risk returning to school.

In the NFL, Fluker would likely move to the guard position due to his struggles with speedy defensive ends coming off of the edge.

He is more of a lineman that is capable of opening up holes in the running game. Still, due to his combination of size (6'6", 335 pounds) and strength, Fluker has a ton of upside and would be worth a pick in the early rounds.

With teams always looking to bulk up their offensive lines, Fluker should fall no further than the later part of the second round. Don't expect a first round selection with this draft being surprisingly deep on quality offensive linemen.

 

Eddie Lacy, RB

Note: Lacy has already decided to take his talents to the NFL, according to Tony Pauline of SI.com. However, this has not been confirmed by the school or the player, which leaves the door open for the possibility of returning. With that said, I still think he is gone after the national championship.

In a draft class that is extremely weak at the running back position, Lacy could see some attention early and be one of the first backs to have his name called.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller says that Lacy could go as high as the second round with a solid combine.

Due to his ability to run between the tackles and take a pounding, NFL teams will eat this guy up.

What you see is what you get from Lacy, and that's a powerful runner who can keep the chains moving and pick up those tough yards that smaller backs have issues producing.

Lacy could leave for the NFL at the right time, and should be another Alabama back taken early at the next level.

The Crimson Tide are also set at the running back position next season, with the emergence of T.J. Yeldon and top recruit Derrick Henry committing to Alabama.

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