Which incoming player's game is redolent of Eagles Pro Bowler Trent Cole?
Despite the NFL exodus of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Eddie Lacy, Dee Milliner and others, the Tide are—and will continue to be—a prohibitive favorite to repeat as BCS National Champions.
Alabama has become a gateway to NFL success, something each of Alabama's incoming 5-star recruits hopes his future holds. Let's examine which modern pro each member the impressive quartet most closely resembles.
ATH Derrick Henry
NFL Comparison: Brandon Jacobs, Free Agent
Henry's reputation precedes him on his journey to Tuscaloosa; he finished his career as the leading high school rusher of all time.
What the future holds for him, however, is much more divisive than his past.
Henry is listed as an "athlete," since nobody is sure what position he'll play next year. At 6'3'', 243 pounds with elite athleticism, Henry is seen by scouts fitting anywhere from outside backer to defensive end to H-back.
But as of now, his future tentatively appears to be at running back, where his legendary power likens him to Brandon Jacobs. And not old, washed-up, energy drink-promoting Brandon Jacobs—peak of his powers, most dangerous downhill runner in football Brandon Jacobs.
Henry's also been compared by some (like B/R's Marc Kohn) to Eddie George, while other even more optimistic scouts have likened him to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson.
WR Robert Foster
NFL Comparison: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
The first word that comes to mind in describing both Robert Foster and A.J. Green is 'fluidity.'
Measuring out in the 6'3''-6'4'' range, both men are able to maneuver their bodies like smaller, more compact athletes. Despite their impressive size, there's nothing clunky about the way either man moves around the field.
Accordingly, they've both done well to establish themselves as premier playmakers at their respective levels. Neither player is a bona fide "burner" on the outside, but they both have rangy, deceptive speed. That bounding stride allows them to sucker defenders in, then abuse them down the field with their incredible in-the-air ball skills.
Foster does all the little things well, too. He has great balance, great body control and even better hands. Overall, he's just an incredibly impressive prospect with tons of room to grow—both mentally and physically (he still hasn't really started to fill out).
He'll need to work his tail off if he ever wants to reach the heights of A.J. Green. But physically, it's hard not to see some of the Bengals receiver in Foster's all-around game.
OLB/DE Jonathan Allen
NFL Comparison: Trent Cole, Philadelphia Eagles
The word "tweener" typically has a malignant connotation. It's reserved for a player who floats between two positions, but only because he's not COMPLETELY capable of playing either.
Like Trent Cole, no scout is audacious enough to call Jonathan Allen a "tweener." He's what we like to call a "hybrid."
Cole hasn't been asked to play linebacker since joining the Philadelphia Eagles, and the same is expected of Allen at Alabama. They check in around the same size, 6'3'', but play like they're at least three inches taller.
Both Allen and Cole are special athletes with even more special motors. That is, they're built like blue-chippers but play like walk-ons. They're also both equally adept against the pass and run, unable to be exploited by savvy offensive game-planners.
For playing like an ideal 4-3 end, despite possessing the size of an ideal 3-4 'backer, Jonathan Allen compares nicely with the Eagles' veteran leader.
TE O.J. Howard
NFL Comparison: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Easiest call of the group.
O.J. Howard, much like the Packers' Jermichael Finley, immediately jumps out at you with his Herculean frame. He's 6'6'', 225 pounds, and capable of running a sub-4.5 40.
Like Jermichael Finley, Howard also excels at playing jump balls with his height and athleticism. His array of in-the-air skills makes him a load to handle down the field, and with the right quarterback, he could become a relentless big-play threat.
B/R's "Full Ride" team goes into greater depth with this comparison here, so I'll just digress by reiterating what a gem this behemoth might very well become.