Alabama vs. Notre Dame: Players Who Can Improve Their Draft Stock the Most
With the NFL regular season over, several teams—and millions of upset fans—will now turn their attention to the 2013 draft.
One of the biggest showcases of talent, obviously, will be the BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Not only will Manti Te'o, Chance Warmack, Dee Milliner and an abundance of other early-round talent be on display in the place where Will Smith let's go, but several other potential studs will get a chance to impress NFL scouts on the biggest stage.
Let's take a look at those with the most to gain in Miami.
Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame
After tearing his MCL against USC last season, it appeared as though Lewis-Moore's promising football career had come to a screeching halt.
But the big lineman went all "Adrian Peterson" on us—OK, not quite—and returned this season as a grad student and as dominant as ever. In 12 games, he totaled 39 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Moreover, he only got better as the season went on, recording 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in the season's final four games.
As a big (6'4", 306 pounds), strong defensive lineman who has the ability to move around on the defensive line, Lewis-Moore should have a future in the NFL, but he projects as "only" a middle-round pick.
Nonetheless, if the fifth-year senior can put together a disruptive game against Alabama's offensive line, which is riddled with All-Americans and potential first-round picks, he'll open a lot of eyes.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Lacy is just a junior, but it was announced in early December that he would declare for the 2013 draft.
Good for T.J. Yeldon, who has the potential to break some records with the bulk of Alabama's carries, good for NFL teams in need of a running back and good for Lacy, who has earned a paycheck after a monstrous 1,182-yard, 17-touchdown season.
But injury woes before this season and concerns about his ability to contribute in the passing game have Lacy, according to ESPN, ranked as just the sixth-best running back.
Still, though, Lacy has ideal size for an NFL running back (5'10", 220 pounds) and is a strong, powerful runner capable eating up big chunks of yardage on every play.
Notre Dame is one of the best teams in the nation at stopping the run (3.2 yards per carry allowed), but if Lacy finds a way to get anywhere near his season average of 6.4 ypc, his stock will easily jump to the second round.
Braxston Cave, C, Notre Dame
Not many teams are better than Notre Dame against the run (statistically, nine to be exact), but Alabama is one of them.
Who will improve their draft stock the most?
The Crimson Tide have one of the most menacing front sevens in the nation and are giving up a minuscule 2.5 yards per carry.
That's not great news for the Irish, as both teams are tough in the trenches and this one figures to come down to who better excels in the run game.
Notre Dame's entire offensive line—not to mention the running backs—will have to be up to the tall task, but center Braxston Cave has the most to gain with a good performance.
NFL teams don't always reach for centers, but Cave, who already ranks as the fourth-best in the nation, has the chance to separate himself from the majority of a crowded group with an elite performance against an NFL-caliber defense.
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