Alabama CB Dee Milliner, who may be the Tide's top NFL draft prospect for the class of 2013, was one of 10 former Tide players to participate in this year's combine.
The NFL draft has become another showcase of dominance for Nick Saban’s Alabama program, and with 10 former Tide stars participating in the NFL combine earlier this week, that trend is a strong bet to continue.
A trio of offensive linemen—Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack—plus corner Dee Milliner and nose tackle Jesse Williams are all players that project to be selected in the early rounds of April’s draft.
For players like safety Robert Lester, linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive linemen Quinton Dial and Damion Square, the festivities at Lucas Oil Stadium represented a chance to make an impression and raise their respective stocks.
For a handful of them, those impressions—at least ones that come on the field—will have to wait until pro day because of various injuries.
How did each former Tide star fare and what is the buzz coming out of Indianapolis on the Tide's contingent of NFL prospects heading into the stretch before the draft?
Here are the complete NFL combine results* for all 10 former Alabama stars that traveled to Indianapolis.
*All results are courtesy of NFL.com. Players listed in alphabetical order.
Dial is a versatile defensive lineman that came to the combine projected as a prospect with value as a late-round selection.
Dial—who is dealing with a toe injury—opted to skip the drills in Indianapolis in favor of working out in Alabama’s pro day next month (h/t, Andrew Gribble, AL.com).
The former JUCO transfer has ideal size (6’5”, 318 pounds) to be a physical end in a 3-4 scheme at the next level.
If he heals up, the Tide’s pro day will be crucial for his draft stock.
Of the three Crimson Tide linemen in attendance, Fluker arrived in Indianapolis with the most to prove.
The first hurdle for him was to show that he has kept his weight under control, and he proved to do so by tipping the scales at 6’5”, 339 pounds.
Fluker projects as a right tackle at the next level, and he has a chance to end up in the first round provided he maintains his body and performs well in the testing circuit.
While his numbers will not blow anyone’s socks off, they represent a solid effort for a player that is clearly talented enough to warrant first-round consideration.
40-Yard Dash: 5.31 seconds
Bench Press: 21 reps
Johnson—who participated in the Senior Bowl last month—will make the rounds in Indianapolis without participating in any of the physical drills due to his recovery from a recent surgery to repair a sports hernia, per Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
Johnson was a valuable contributor at both inside linebacker spots for the Tide the last two seasons, but questions about his ability in pass coverage are the primary reasons most draft experts have him pegged as a middle-round selection.
Johnson hopes to be ready for the Tide’s pro day, which is scheduled for March 13, per Patrick Clarke of B/R.
Despite his inability to perform in any of the drills in the combine due to a recent surgery on his foot, Jones was still able to make an impression on the movers and shakers gathered in Indianapolis (h/t, Andrew Gribble, AL.com).
Jones—who measured in at 6’4”, 306 pounds—played three different positions (left tackle, right guard and center) in college, and his versatility should be a plus in helping his stock remain as a late first-round or early second-round selection despite his injury.
Considering his body of work at the college level plus his intelligence and intangibles, Jones is another player that is safe bet to be an instant contributor to whichever team selects him.
Lacy is in the mix of running backs that are fighting to be the top rusher taken off the board.
However, a gimpy hamstring prevented him from taking part in the combine drills (h/t, Ron Clements, montgomeryadvertiser.com).
His health has been one of the biggest questions about his stock, but a torrid finish to the 2012 season boosted him into the top tier of rushers in this class.
Lacy is expected to participate in the Tide’s pro day on March 13, and considering that no running back in Indianapolis stood out as the clear-cut No. 1 player at the position, a solid performance there could solidify him as the top back in the draft.
Along with Barrett Jones and Damion Square, Lester was a part of Alabama’s ground-breaking 2008 recruiting class that formed the backbone of the Tide’s ascension into a modern dynasty.
After mostly being noted as former teammate and Tide All-American safety Mark Barron’s sidekick, Lester had a solid season as the unquestioned leader in Saban’s secondary unit last season.
His 14 career interceptions and his mental capacity to be the leader of Saban’s secondary are factors that will draw scouts to Lester’s game.
While Lester did not put up any eye-catching numbers, three years' worth of solid game tape should be more than enough to help him climb the boards in a safety class that is lacking in star power and depth.
40-yard Dash: 4.66 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Broad Jump: 117 inches
Milliner likely represents Alabama’s top prospect for the 2013 draft class.
Projected as the top cornerback available, Milliner also showed his toughness by postponing a surgery to repair a torn labrum in favor of participating in the combine, according to Darin Gantt of profootballtalk.com.
The fact that he easily could have opted to sit out the physical drills should tell NFL clubs everything they need to know about his will to compete.
After ripping off a blistering 4.37 time in the 40 (second fastest time amongst corners), Milliner is still the odds-on favorite to be the top cover corner taken in April’s draft.
40-Yard Dash: 4.37 seconds
Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Broad Jump: 122 inches
Square was a valuable contributor on the Tide’s defensive line for the last three seasons, including being a full-time starter in his final two years at the Capstone.
Square is another player hampered by an injury—with his knee being the source of his inability to workout in Indianapolis. It’s uncertain at this time whether or not Square will be ready for the Tide’s pro day.
With the Texas native not expected to be an early-round prospect, missing an opportunity to make an impression during the pre-draft circuit could prove costly—partly because his role in Alabama’s system did not allow him to post big numbers from his defensive end spot.
However, the 6’2”, 293-pounder has experience lining up at different spots along the Tide’s front—which should enhance his stock for a team looking for a versatile lineman in the later rounds.
Generally offensive guards are not valued in the draft like their counterparts at the tackle positions.
However, Warmack appears to be the exception to that rule—with some mock drafts placing him as a top 10 selection.
Warmack—who tipped the scales at 6’2”, 317 pounds—is regarded as one of the safest picks in this draft considering his scouting tape shows him paving the way for former Tide running back greats Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
That notion was reinforced with a solid effort at the combine.
40-Yard Dash: 5.49 seconds
Broad Jump: 110 inches
Williams’s freakish strength is the stuff of legend despite just a two-year stint in Tuscaloosa after coming out of the JUCO ranks (h/t, Matt Scalici, AL.com).
So it’s no surprise that the Australia-native had high hopes to smash the combine record for most reps on the bench press, per Michael David Smith of profootballtalk.com.
For now, his 30 reps at 225 pounds will have to be considered a disappointment, but it should not hamper him too much considering he’s less than 100 percent healthy, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
With a number of defensive tackles that could warrant first-round grades, the combine is just one metric that can be used as a means of separation.
Williams—who is expected to be ready for Alabama’s pro day—is still one of the better interior defensive line prospects in the 2013 class.
Bench Press: 30 reps