Alabama Football: NFL Draft Prospects Who Need Strong Title Game to Boost Stock
As usual, the Alabama Crimson Tide are not only headed to the BCS National Championship, but are loaded with soon-to-be enrollees in the NFL Draft.
In 2012, we saw four Alabama players–Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont'a Hightower–come off the board just in the first round.
This year's numbers could compete with that level of production, as many NFL-ready juniors and seniors are prepared to take the leap to the big league.
Let's take a look at the players who need to have a big game against Notre Dame to improve their draft stock and ensure a high pick.
Jesse Williams, DT
Senior defensive tackle Jesse Williams has the physical tools and presence necessary to thrive in the NFL, but draft scouts aren't sure if he's polished enough as a pass rusher to succeed at the next level.
Even if he gets pushed around by a stout Notre Dame offensive line, Williams will likely still go in the first round. But he has an incredibly high ceiling and could be drafted in the top 15 if he has a big game.
Williams has the effort level, but he needs to know his skills have flourished in Alabama's strong defensive unit.
It's no secret that Williams is a pest in the run game, but he needs to show on the big stage that he can also disrupt the passer.
Barrett Jones, C
Alabama center Barrett Jones has been in transition mode pretty much since he stepped on campus, moving from nearly every offensive line position to the center spot where he currently dwells.
His versatility and natural-born leadership characteristics make him an attractive pick, as well as his shown ability to master the difficult center position. It's made him the top center target by CBS Sports' draft gurus.
However, many teams in the hunt for an offensive lineman are eager to look in another direction, and Jones may fall into the second round.
If Jones wants to keep Alabama's domination of the draft's first round intact, he'll have to boast a big game against the tough Fighting Irish defense and prove he's the cream of the crop up front.
Dee Milliner, CB
Even if he gives up a couple of touchdowns, Dee Milliner is likely to be a top 10 pick and the first cornerback taken off the board due to his unique skill set and domination this season.
But the cornerback position is a spot where you can direct a lot of attention to yourself for making big plays, and that's just what he can do on Jan. 7 to cement his place among the top five draft picks chosen.
Milliner's stock has boomed this season, as he turned a hyped campaign into one of the most dominating defensive performances in the country. His 18 pass break-ups are third most for a single season in school history, and he added 51 tackles as well.
There's no doubt Milliner will be the first Alabama product taken this offseason in April's draft, but he can only do himself a favor by blowing up against Notre Dame.
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