The Crimson Tide added Marlon Humphrey to its class of commitments for the 2014 cycle and in Humphrey, Alabama has one of the nation's most skilled players at any position. Humphrey not only brings much-needed depth to the cornerback position, but the newest Tide commit also brings some much-needed skill to the roster.
Despite finishing No. 11 in passing defense, Nick Saban's team had legitimate issues against the pass. The team was forced to compensate for the lack of reliable play at the cornerback spot by protecting them with safeties over the top. There was a revolving door at the position as Bradley Sylve, Eddie Jackson, John Fulton and Cyrus Jones all took a turn trying to play good football.
Saban addressed the issue in recruiting, pulling in the nation's top two cornerback prospects in Tony Brown, an early enrollee, and Humphrey. Brown's a tremendous athlete who should blossom into another great Alabama defensive back, but Humphrey is the pill that should remedy the issue immediately because he is ready to play.
Humphrey is the nation's No. 1 cornerback, according to 247sports.com, and at 6'1" has the length to be a problem both at the line of scrimmage and in coverage. The long arms will help him press at the point, to reroute receivers and disrupt timing, and in the back-end the length will aid him in raking arms, knocking down passes and closing down quarterback windows.
In addition to the frame, the Hoover, Alabama defensive back is capable physically. He has the speed to run with wideouts and is physical enough in his game play to get active against the run.
Yet, the true positives of Humphrey come with his polish. Last season, Vernon Hargreaves and Kendall Fuller entered the collegiate world ready to step on the field and play from not only a physical standpoint, but a mental and technical standpoint as well. Humphrey fits into that mold as a player who has been taught how to play the game well, and it shows.
Saban's prize recruit pushes his pedal well, maintaining the cushion and seeing through the receiver to the quarterback. He is capable, and comfortable, playing both man-to-man and zone coverages, something that gives him a leg up on most DBs transitioning to the next level.
Although Humphrey is not an early enrollee like Brown, he will be very much in the competition to not only get on the field, but see starter minutes at the cornerback spot. He brings good pad level, flexible hips and a tremendous understanding to the position and those are all things that were lacking a season ago for the Crimson Tide.
Saban knows football well, and the appeal of Humphrey, as a player who can compete early, certainly was critical in recruiting. The measurables are there for the nation's top-ranked cornerback, and more importantly he possesses the polish to be the contributor Alabama needs.