Alabama Football: Replacements for Every Drafted Tider

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystApril 26, 2013

Alabama Football: Replacements for Every Drafted Tider

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    The 2013 NFL draft is another platform that will showcase the dominance of the football program Nick Saban has built at Alabama.

    Several former Tiders are expected to find new homes at the professional level by week’s end, but which players on the 2013 Alabama squad are expected to fill the shoes of their accomplished former teammates? 

    Find out about some of the new faces that will have large roles in Tuscaloosa this fall in this breakdown focusing on every replacement for each former Tide star picked in this year’s NFL draft.

    *This list will be updated as Tide players are selected in the 2013 NFL draft.

Dee Milliner

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    The New York Jets ignored the recent chatter about Milliner’s surgically repaired shoulder and selected the All-American corner with the ninth pick of the first round.

    Milliner’s departure leaves a sizeable void in the Tide’s secondary, mainly because there doesn’t appear to be a dominant understudy waiting in the wings like Milliner—who took over for Dre Kirkpatrick last season. 

    Seniors John Fulton and Deion Belue are projected to be the Tide’s top two corners entering the season, with sophomore Geno Smith pushing both of them to earn a starting role.

    Smith has the most upside of the trio, but none of them appear capable of locking down one side of the field as Milliner was able to do in 2012.  

Chance Warmack

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    Heading into Thursday’s first round of the draft, Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper were in a dead heat for the right to be called the top guard prospect in the 2013 class.

    Both turned out to be worthy of being top-10 picks, with Cooper going seventh overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

    Warmack—regarded as one the safest picks in this class—was selected by the Titans with the 10th pick.

    Junior Arie Kouandjio appears to have the inside track on replacing Warmack at left guard. Kouandjio—whose younger brother Cyrus is the Tide’s starter at left tackle—has battled injuries throughout his career, but he finally looks to be healthy and ready to take over a starting role this fall.

    Kouandjio gives the Tide an athletic lineman with similar size (6'5", 315 pounds) to Warmack to plug in at his old position.

D.J. Fluker

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    Despite Fluker’s early-week Twitter controversy, the talented right tackle became Alabama's third consecutive selection in the opening round after San Diego took him 11th overall. 

    While JUCO transfer Leon Brown was recruited as a potential replacement for Fluker, veteran Austin Shepherd is the presumed starter at right tackle through the conclusion of spring practice.

    The competition will still carry over to fall camp, but Shepherd—who was Fluker’s backup last season—looks to have a leg up on earning the nod in the season opener against Virginia Tech.

    While neither Brown nor Shepherd are as big as the mammoth Fluker, both are athletic options that give the Tide two seasoned linemen to choose from in finding his eventual successor.

Eddie Lacy

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    The Green Bay Packers selection of Eddie Lacy gives Alabama its third consecutive rusher selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

    Barring injury or any other unforeseen circumstances, rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon is a strong candidate to join the first-round running back club in 2014. 

    After rushing for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman, the scary thought for the Tide’s opponents is that they have to deal with Yeldon for at least two more seasons.  

Nico Johnson

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    After a solid career at the Capstone, Nico Johnson put together a resume good enough for the Kansas City Chiefs to call his name in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

    Johnson split time as a co-starter at each of the Tide’s two inside linebacker positions.  Junior Trey DePriest will be the main man at the Mike spot, while standout senior C.J. Mosley takes over the Will position full-time. 

    The fact that Mosley led the Tide in tackles as a part-time starter speaks volumes as to the depth Alabama has enjoyed at linebacker in recent years.

    While Johnson’s leadership will be missed, don’t expect the Tide to miss a beat on the middle level of its defense this season.

Barrett Jones

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    With their selection of Barrett Jones in the fourth round, the St. Louis Rams acquired one of the most storied offensive linemen in Alabama’s storied history. 

    While it’s impossible to replace what Jones brought to the table as a student-athlete, sophomore Ryan Kelly has looked impressive as a reserve (named to the SEC’s 2012 All-Freshman team) and throughout spring practice.

    Kelly’s play is big reason why Saban feels good about the prospects of his offensive line developing into a quality unit despite the heavy attrition (h/t Don Kausler Jr., AL.com). 

Jesse Williams

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    The Seattle Seahawks added former Tide defensive tackle Jesse Williams in the fifth round to solidify its stingy defensive unit. 

    The graduation of Williams leaves a rather sizeable hole in the middle of Alabama’s three-man defensive line. 

    Junior Brandon Ivory gained valuable experience as an understudy to Williams, and he will be counted upon to give the Tide a dominant presence at nose guard capable of plugging running lanes. 

    Ivory’s continued development will be a critical part of helping Alabama’s defense remain amongst the nation’s elite.

Quinton Dial

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    Dial was a valuable backup defensive end that spelled starters Square and Ed Stinson over much of the last two seasons.  His versatility as a utility lineman helped him get selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round. 

    Redshirt freshman Dalvin Tomlinson and sophomore LaMichael Fanning are a pair of young defensive ends with significant potential.

    Tomlinson, in particular, provides a different, but intriguing option.   His size (6’2”, 287) isn’t overwhelming, but his quickness helps him as a pass-rusher and in pursuit (h/t, Don Kausler, Jr. AL.com). 

Michael Williams

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    Even though the dependable Williams didn’t earn an invitation to the combine, his performance during the week of the Senior Bowl helped him come of the board in the seventh round when the Detroit Lions selected him.

    Junior Brian Vogler is a 6’7”, 260-pound force giving the Tide a physical blocker in the run game similar to the role Williams excelled in. 

    But as his four receptions in the A-Day game showed, Vogler is a capable target for McCarron in the flats or in the middle of the field.