Alabama Football: Three Tide Players Who Will Help Their NFL Draft Stock in 2013
NFL mock drafts have been laden with members of the Alabama Crimson Tide since Nick Saban took over the helm in Tuscaloosa, and the 2014 NFL draft class should be no different.
But there are a few players on the cusp of cracking the first round or the Top 10 of the draft but need to add to their resumes and skill sets in the upcoming season to climb those draft boards.
Here, we break down the three who will help their draft stock the most in the 2013 season.
3. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix
Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is approaching his junior season at Alabama, but his aggressive style of play and knack for finding the football have projected him as a potential first-round draft pick one year early.
Coach Saban is usually reluctant to advise his players to enter the draft before their senior seasons if they are not projected to be first-round selections, but the coach of the Crimson Tide will likely be parting ways with his ball-hawk safety at season's end.
Clinton-Dix is a lengthy safety that isn't afraid to pack a punch when he comes up in run support. At 6'1", 208 pounds, he is the prototypical size for an NFL safety with a nose for defending the pass as well as the run.
But in 2013, he will assume the role as the leader of the secondary, with the departures of Robert Lester and Dee Milliner, and that's great for Clinton-Dix. If he can continue to improve like he did in 2012, he could very well be the first safety chosen in Radio City Music Hall.
If he can continue to reach for the ceiling that seems to have no limit for him, as well as orchestrate a secondary at a program like Alabama, Clinton-Dix could be an early selection in next year's draft.
2. C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley has already registered an impressive college career while at Alabama. The senior linebacker was a consensus All-American last season and a finalist for the Butkus Award, but he is still undervalued and unknown to majority of football fans.
In 2012, Mosley recorded 107 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and a defensive touchdown. He quietly moved his way into the discussion as one of the country's best inside linebackers without anyone knowing about it.
But 2013 will be a different story. Mosley enters his final season in Tuscaloosa as the leader of the defense and one of the main leaders of the entire team. His ability to control the Tide's defense will fare well with pro scouts searching for a consistent man in the middle of their defense.
However, the thing about Mosley that sets him apart from most college linebackers is his knack for defending the pass. He is a slender backer, at 6'2", 232 pounds, which allows him to keep up with running backs out of the backfield and streaking tight ends.
The NFL and college football are developing into pass-happy leagues, and more teams are looking for defensive players that are capable of adequately covering explosive offensive players. C.J. Mosley can do just that.
If he can maintain his pass coverage and lead this team to another dominant season, Mosley could find himself going somewhere in the Top 10 picks of next year's draft.
1. AJ McCarron
AJ McCarron has led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships in his two years as a starter. Last season, he led the FBS in passing efficiency and only threw three interceptions.
It's easy to say that he is a successful quarterback at the college level, but will his skill set translate to the next level and flourish as a starter in the NFL? That's what he must focus on in 2013 in order to help his draft stock at the end of his senior season.
McCarron has been a field general for Alabama the past two seasons and hasn't had eye-popping stats like other quarterbacks who have been taken early in the draft. But the upcoming season looks bright for the redshirt senior quarterback, as he looks to make history by winning a third consecutive national title.
McCarron has always had a dominant running game behind him since he has been under center. But this season, with a new-look offensive line and one experienced running back, the passing game will likely get more attention from the coaching staff.
He is surrounded by weapons on the outside, with a bevy of receivers to chose from on any given down. Everyone knows McCarron is accurate, but now he has even more hands to place the football into and that could spell trouble for opposing defenses.
Last season, he threw 2,933 yards and 30 touchdowns with a depleted receiving corps and a freshman wide receiver. Just imagine what he can do with more opportunities and more targets to work with.
The formula is set for McCarron to have an outstanding final year at Alabama. And if he can prove that he is a threatening pocket passer, not only will he be toward the top of the Heisman watch list, but he will find himself rising up the draft projections list to the top of the class.