The University of Alabama has boasted the most dominant program in college football over the past several seasons, and that much was clear on Wednesday as throngs of NFL scouts made the trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take in the Crimson Tide's pro day.
Several early-round picks entered the day with an opportunity to improve their stock, and it can be argued that no player had more eyeballs on him than linebacker C.J. Mosley.
That much was apparent when he addressed a huge media contingent, as seen in this photo courtesy of Alabama Football on Twitter:
Mosley was a four-year player and three-year starter under head coach Nick Saban, and he emerged as the team's unquestioned leader on defense. Mosley's intangibles are impressive, but his physical skill may equal or even exceed that.
Although Mosley took part in the NFL Scouting Combine, he declined to run the 40-yard dash. Mosley obliged at Wednesday's pro day, however, and certainly didn't do anything to hurt his value in front of talent evaluators.
According to Rick Karle of WBRC Fox6 in Birmingham, Ala., Mosley clocked in with an unofficial time of 4.63 seconds:
Mosley revealed a time that conflicted somewhat with Karle's report as he said that he finished somewhere between 4.5 seconds and 4.6 seconds, per The Game 99.1 WDGM radio in Tuscaloosa:
As seen in this Instagram video from D.C. Reeves of the Tuscaloosa News, Mosley looked fluid and explosive when running the 40:
Regardless of which time the official time more closely resembles, Mosley acquitted himself well. If nothing else, he has a glowing endorsement from Saban to fall back on, and that should go a long way toward convincing NFL teams to jump on him come draft day.
According to Jim Corbett of USA Today, Saban gushed about Mosley's skill set, as well as his willingness to put in the hard work necessary to achieve greatness:
If people evaluate C.J. as a football player — how fast you play; how athletic you are; how instinctive you are and how many plays you make — I would challenge anybody to show me 10 better players.
He silently works hard, doesn't look for a lot of self gratification from other people — really has fun doing what he does. He understands, though, to have fun and to be confident, you really have to invest time and earn it. He practices that way, plays that way. It is unusual today to find someone who is driven to do well in everything he aspires to.
Mosley already had the makings of a first-round prospect prior to Alabama's pro day, and that was unlikely to change unless he bombed. That wasn't the case, so Mosley and his representatives can feel fairly comfortable about his status as the draft approaches.
The same can't be said for every Crimson Tide player, though. If Mosley is trending in an upward direction, then offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is doing just the opposite.
For starters, Kouandjio was far from impressive at the combine. According to NFL.com, he ran the 40 in a disappointing 5.59 seconds, and he only did 21 reps on the bench press, which isn't a particularly impressive number considering his size.
Also, there is some concern regarding his knee. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport initially reported that Kouandjio failed several physicals because of that troublesome knee:
That was naturally a big topic of conversation at Bama's pro day. According to Reeves, Saban found no instances of a team failing Kouandjio:
Also, Kouandjio said that neither he nor his agent are aware of any failed physicals, per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com:
It initially looked as though Kouandjio would sit out on pro day, but he ultimately took the field and participated in some drills, according to Andrew Gribble of the Birmingham News:
Kouandjio largely refrained from doing combine-style workouts, although he did go through some offensive lineman drills as well as the three-cone drill.
His performance was somewhat uneven, and while it probably didn't eliminate any stigmas attached to him in the wake of the combine, it didn't make things any worse either.
One promising aspect to take away from Kouandjio's day is the fact that he reportedly lost 11 pounds since the combine, per Marquavius Burnett of The Anniston Star:
Pro day essentially represented the status quo for Kouandjio, and his draft status is still very much up in the air as he may no longer be viewed as a first-rounder.
Few quarterbacks in the history of college football have had as much success as AJ McCarron in terms of wins and losses, but nobody is quite sure how that will translate to the NFL. McCarron isn't considered an elite quarterback prospect by any means, but he is an intriguing one nonetheless.
McCarron was a very steady performer at the combine, so he wisely opted to throw at his pro day and allow his combine numbers to stand alone.
There was no shortage of heavy hitters on hand to see what McCarron could do. Among them was New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who greeted McCarron, according to ESPN's Danny Kanell:
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly took in McCarron's workout as well:
The one label that McCarron has to shake heading into the draft is that of a "game manager." It's true that he often wasn't asked to win games on his own thanks to Alabama's great defense and running game, but that stigma is negatively impacting his draft status.
Apparently, receiver Kevin Norwood didn't get the memo as he used the dreaded words to describe his quarterback, per RosterWatch.com:
With that said, McCarron was accurate and smooth throughout the passing drills, and he put on an impressive showing, according to Stephen M. Smith of Touchdown Alabama Magazine:
As is often with the case at pro days, McCarron didn't implode by any means, but he probably didn't significantly alter the way that teams view him.
Mosley, Kouandjio and McCarron were definitely the "big three" at Alabama's pro day in terms of coverage, but they were far from the only prospects who put their skills to the test.
Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is arguably the top safety in this year's draft and looks like a safe bet to be selected in the first round. He didn't run the 40 after a solid time of 4.58 seconds at the combine, but he did participate in defensive back drills.
Above all else, Clinton-Dix displayed great hands, according to Tide 99.1:
Teams are always looking for ball hawks who can make big plays at the safety position, and Clinton-Dix looked the part on Wednesday.
Another player who presumably had scouts talking was defensive end Ed Stinson. Although he was limited due to a groin injury, according to Reeves, he impressed to the tune of 27 bench press reps:
Alabama's pro day was a huge event due to the depth of talent that was present, and there is no question that NFL scouts got a good idea of what they're dealing with. None of the performances were groundbreaking, but they were impressive considering the amount of pressure that the prospects faced.
One thing is abundantly clear after Wednesday's workout—the first few rounds of May's draft will be stacked with Crimson Tide players.
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