Two potential first-round picks from the Alabama Crimson Tide, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, have reportedly declared early for the 2014 NFL draft, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN:
ESPN Report: Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to enter NFL draft.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2014
Neither's decision comes as much of a shock, as both are considered among the top prospects at their positions.
In his most recent mock draft from Dec. 30, B/R's Matt Miller had Kouandjio going No. 13 to the St. Louis Rams and Clinton-Dix going No. 25 to the Green Bay Packers.
That, of course, came before the Crimson Tide's Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, which Kouandjio, more than anyone, seemed to struggle in. AJ McCarron was sacked a career-high seven times by the Sooners, facing heavy pressure on his blind side from linebacker Eric Striker, whom Kouandjio was often assigned to block.
After the game, the big left tackle (6'6'', 310 lbs) apologized to fans for his performance and vowed that it wouldn't break him, per Andrew Gribble of AL.com:
Cyrus Kouandjio apologized to Alabama fans for his performance. "It's not going to break me," he said.— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) January 3, 2014
Clinton-Dix faced his own troubles in 2013, albeit of the off-field variety. He was suspended for two games in the middle of the season for accepting impermissible benefits—borrowing a couple hundred bucks from an assistant coach—but he was reinstated by the NCAA during mid-October.
Even with a couple of blemishes on their most recent season, both Kouandjio and Clinton-Dix have an overwhelmingly positive body of work to their names, and both appear to be ready to make the jump to the next level.
Their losses will be felt in Tuscaloosa, but the way Nick Saban recruits, the Crimson Tide should have little trouble finding replacements. Next man up.