Alabama Football: NFL Draft Projections for Every Former Crimson Tide Prospect

Christopher Walsh@@WritingWalshCollege Football National ColumnistMay 5, 2014

Alabama Football: NFL Draft Projections for Every Former Crimson Tide Prospect

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    Among the former Alabama players available in this year's NFL draft, no one's stock has gone up more than wide receiver Kevin Norwood's.
    Among the former Alabama players available in this year's NFL draft, no one's stock has gone up more than wide receiver Kevin Norwood's.USA TODAY Sports

    Former NFL coach Jon Gruden had it right when he called the upcoming draft a “crap shoot,” even though he was only talking about one position at the time.

    Not so long ago, the top three quarterbacks available were all thought to be automatic top-five selections. Now no one can say for sure if they’ll all go in the first round.

    What does that mean for AJ McCarron, who hopes to become the first University of Alabama quarterback to be selected in the first round since Richard Todd in 1976 (by the New York Jets)?

    It’s difficult to say, especially since he’s thought to be part of a strong tier of talented quarterbacks right behind the top three, including Tom Savage, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray.

    “I think teams are trying to talk themselves into that second group so they can take a big-time positional player earlier in the draft,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said.

    While the 2014 draft might go down as one of the strongest ever in terms of overall talent, combined with a record number of 98 underclassmen declaring themselves available, it’s probably the most unpredictable to date.

    Perhaps this is why Nick Saban made a point of saying at a Crimson Caravan speaking event last week that it’s not when you’re drafted that counts but what you do with the opportunity.

    Gruden obviously agrees, and believes that McCarron would be "a good acquisition for someone that has a long-term plan."

    "Alabama comes out of a huddle, they only throw the ball 26 plays a game, which is about 100th in college football,” the ESPN announcer/analyst said on a recent conference call with reporters. “He takes care of the ball. He has a big-picture understanding of the game. He's been well-schooled, disciplined, he's durable.

    "I don't think he has tremendous athletic ability, his arm is not off the charts, but he can play quarterback and manage an NFL system."

    Regardless, after having the most players invited to the NFL combine, with 12, Alabama is poised to set a record for most selections in program history. It had nine picks in 2013, and eight the year before, but the record of 10 was set in 1945. Back Johnny August was the Crimson Tide’s first player selected that year in the eighth round, and the 10th player went in the 32nd round.

    This year, of course, the draft will last just seven rounds. Here’s a look at the Crimson Tide’s top prospects (in alphabetical order):

Deion Belue

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    Deion Belue was a two-year starter and had three career interceptions with the Crimson Tide.
    Deion Belue was a two-year starter and had three career interceptions with the Crimson Tide.USA TODAY Sports

    There’s been very little talk about cornerback Deion Belue, the former junior college player who had an injury-plagued season and aggravated his turf toe during the Sugar Bowl. His top priority since then has been to just get healthy.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 30, 14, 38.

    Draft prep: Belue received an invitation for the Senior Bowl, but didn’t play. It wasn’t until Alabama’s pro day that was able to participate in all drills for scouts and posted 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Sixth round to Bills. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “Lean, high-cut, press-bail corner with enough field speed, range and competitiveness to compete for a sub-package role. Played hurt as a senior and has desirable intangibles, though he must shore up his tackling and show effectiveness on special teams to give himself a chance.”

    What’s being said: “Deion has given gives us some consistency,” Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said at the Sugar Bowl. “He's a veteran, understands the defense. With him out there, I think a lot of guys feel more comfortable and he has fought really hard throughout the year with injuries. Had weeks where he couldn't practice but still was willing to go out and play in the game, which is tough to do mentally and physically. So anything we can get out of Deion's a bonus with his injuries and things he pushed through.” “Belue struggled with a foot injury in 2013 limiting his production (20 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception) but his grit and experience in [Nick] Saban's scheme is certain to earn him consideration on Day Three of the draft.”

    Final thought: Teams will like his competiveness and professional approach, but Belue lacks ideal size. Still, he’s the kind of player that NFL teams are higher on than the draftniks, and the chances of a Saban cornerback not being selected are pretty slim.

    Best guess: Sixth round.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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    Ha Ha Clinton-Dix actually has more chest tattoos under his shirt than former teammate AJ McCarron.
    Ha Ha Clinton-Dix actually has more chest tattoos under his shirt than former teammate AJ McCarron.USA TODAY Sports

    The only question is if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be the first or second safety selected in the draft. When ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. recently said that he preferred another player because of Alabama’s recent defensive players have been disappointments in the NFL, Crimson Tide fans openly wondered, “What is he talking about?”  

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 1, 1, 1.

    Draft prep: Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor were considered the top two safeties heading into the NFL combine, and both ran an official 4.58 in the 40. Pryor is a natural strong safety while Clinton-Dix is more of a free safety, so team needs figure to be an important factor for who gets selected first.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: No. 13 to the Rams. B/R Draft Top 100: The top-rated safety. “A do-it-all safety prospect, Clinton-Dix has upper-level abilities in every aspect of the game. He's the type of player who walks in and starts from Day 1. And while he may not be on a level with Earl Thomas or Kenny Vaccaro as a prospect, he's right on par with the next group of top-tier safeties.” analysis: “Hype exceeded his performance in Tuscaloosa, but Clinton-Dix offers starter-caliber instincts, range, coverage skills and tackling ability as a free safety. Should be a Day 1 starter.”

    What’s being said: “I think he's one of the top free safeties to come out in the last several years,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who believes Clinton-Dix won’t last past the 17th pick. “Clinton-Dix's rare combination of size, speed, ball skills and football instincts give him a chance to be one of the best at the next level.”

    Final thought: With NFL offenses looking more toward spread attacks, the demand for quality safeties is only growing. “I think Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is going to benefit from it, he’s probably going to be a top 15 pick,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said. Don’t be surprised if someone trades up to grab him as numerous teams picking in the middle of first round need a safety.

    Best guess: Clinton-Dix could be the first Alabama player selected, right around the 12th pick.

Adrian Hubbard

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    The big question about Adrian Hubbard was why didn't he do more at Alabama?
    The big question about Adrian Hubbard was why didn't he do more at Alabama?Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    At 6’6” and with the longest arms of any linebacker at the combine, Adrian Hubbard more than passed the initial eye test. However, his size also makes him a bit of a tweener between outside linebacker and defensive end, depending on the defensive scheme.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 16, 23, 7.

    Draft prep: Even though he’s not considered a “twitch” guy who can burst off the line, Hubbard still had an unofficial 1.62 split in the 40, which can only help his draft stock.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Fifth round to Falcons. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed analysis: “A long-bodied, athletic rush linebacker with the base strength desired in a 4-3 left defensive end, Hubbard's greatest physical trait is his core functional strength and ability to leverage the edge and defend the run. Is still developing as a pass rusher and offers the scheme versatility and upside to interest any defense. Has starter traits, but has yet to reach the impact level he thinks he makes. Has upside if the light bulb comes on.”

    What’s being said: Hubbard made Nolan Nawrocki’s list of most controversial prospects in the draft for because he “has a quirky personality, inflated opinion of his ability and carries a sense of entitlement.” Hubbard responded by telling reporters at the combine, "I just need to let people know I'm not a selfish person." “Scouts will be intrigued with Hubbard's length at nearly 6-feet-6, but there was surprisingly little muscular development on his 255-pound frame at the Senior Bowl. For a player coming off a disappointing junior season who still elected to enter the NFL Draft with a year of collegiate eligibility remaining, it wasn't the best impression to make.”

    Final thought: Hubbard is thought to be sort of a poor man’s Dion Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2013, but isn’t as explosive. Instead, Senior Bowl director Phil Savage may have made a better comparison with Van Waiters, Cleveland’s third-round selection in 1988.

    Best guess: Third round.

Cyrus Kouandjio

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    Cyrus Kouandjio hopes he's done enough to make everyone forget about the combine.
    Cyrus Kouandjio hopes he's done enough to make everyone forget about the combine.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Cyrus Kouandjio is another player who more than passes the eye test. He has the ideal size and arm length that teams are looking for at tackle, but was inconsistent against smaller, speed-rushers at times before coming out a year early.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 4, 4, 6

    Draft prep: After a poor showing at the combine, reports indicated that there were some serious concerns about his knee. Kouandjio did his best to calm concerns during Alabama’s pro day. “I came back four months after my surgery, I played through all spring ball and played through now,” he said. “I never missed a game or a practice because of my knee. That's not even a worry. It was never a worry for me. And [the negative talk is] starting to clear up, which what I expected.”

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Second round to Falcons. B/R Draft Top 100: No. 5 offensive tackle. “Questions about Kouandjio's repaired knee will determine his draft positioning, but if healthy, he has room to exceed his draft stock. Kouandjio, like D.J. Fluker last year, could be an instant-impact starter in the NFL. analysis: “Massive, long-limbed, inconsistent, overhyped college left tackle whose sheer dimensions, raw tools and high ceiling are far more appealing than his snap-to-snap performance at this stage of his development. Has enough length and anchor strength to survive on the left side, though he will never be a dancing bear, and he projects more ideally as a bulldozing right tackle in a power scheme.”

    What’s being said: NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes that Kouandjio will be a first-round pick, perhaps to the Miami Dolphins. “I think he's the guy they probably have to take at 19. They have to make over that offensive line. He would be the highest-rated guy left.” “While each NFL team will rely upon its own medical evaluations, Kouandjio's talent is unquestioned. Massive, strong and surprisingly athletic, Kouandjio offers at least the upside as former teammate D.J. Fluker, the No. 12 overall selection a year ago by the San Diego Chargers. Like Fluker, Kouandjio's best fit in the NFL is likely at right tackle, as he does not possess ideal balance or quickness to handle speed rushers. His length and strength make him an effective pass blocker as he stands and with improved technique, Pro Bowls could be in his future.”

    Final thought: ESPN analyst Todd McShay probably summarized it best when he said that Kouandjio is probably a late first-round pick. “If you’re comfortable about his durability,” and, “A lot of teams need tackles.”

    Best guess: Late first round.

Cody Mandell

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    Not too many punters get drafted, but Cody Mandell is hoping to be an exception.
    Not too many punters get drafted, but Cody Mandell is hoping to be an exception.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There’s always a debate when it comes to punters about whether it’s better to be drafted or be a free agent who can decide between different opportunities.

    Last season Cody Mandell averaged 47.1 yards, with 14 of his 39 attempts going 50-plus yards. 

    However, only two punters were selected in each of the last two drafts, and just one was taken in 2011. 

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 6, NA, 5.

    Draft prep: In addition to punting, combine officials had him kick off a tee as well. Although nearly all of his kicks reached the end zone, they didn’t have much hang time. He was one of only two punters to run the 40, which might have helped get Mandell noticed, and he also got good exposure by playing in the Senior Bowl.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Not selected. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “Hardworking former walk-on has shown improvement every season and has the leg strength, focus and precision to become a field-flipping weapon in the pros.”

    What’s being said: "I like to go into everything with a one-track mind," Mandell said at the combine. "You've always got to have a backup plan, but at the same time you've got to focus. You've got to set a goal for yourself. My goal is to get drafted." “Helped Alabama compile best net punting average in the Nick Saban era and best in the nation in 2013 at 42.47 [yards].”

    Final thought: Look for Mandell to be in an NFL training camp this summer.

    Best guess: Undrafted.

AJ McCarron

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    NFL officials have seen AJ McCarron's trademark football spin during his numerous draft workouts.
    NFL officials have seen AJ McCarron's trademark football spin during his numerous draft workouts.Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller made have summed it up best when it comes to AJ McCarron’s draft prospects, recently tweeting: “It odd to say, but AJ McCarron is really the underdog now. Yes, the 3x national champs from Alabama with the famous fiancé is underrated.”

    Although there’s no better prospect when it comes to running a pro-style offense and making NFL-type progression reads, the top tier of quarterbacks is thought to be Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. 

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 8, 5, 6.

    Draft prep: McCarron was invited to play in his hometown Senior Bowl, but declined in order to heal up and recover from a foot procedure. However, he had a strong performance both at the NFL combine and on Alabama’s pro day, when he had good zip on his throws and connected with nearly all of his deep throws.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Third round to Bengals. B/R Draft Top 100: No. 8 quarterback. “McCarron spent five seasons at a premium college football program, so it's reasonable to think he's already developed as much as he's going to. The areas where he's strong — mechanics, accuracy and decision-making — are good, but his lack of arm strength and asking him to play in an offense without an all-world offensive line could cause drastic results.” analysis: “An efficient game-managing quarterback who has shown he can carry an offense at times throughout his career, but more often is dependent on a terrific supporting cast. Grades out most highly for his intangibles and decision-making, knowing when and where to go with the ball, and could earn an NFL starting job.”

    What’s being said: “AJ had a solid career,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He's better than the 'average Alabama quarterback,' but in this particular draft he's going to be a second or third-round pick. I don't think it's a bad thing. I think that's probably where he belongs. He's going to have an opportunity at some point to become a starting quarterback in the NFL.” “McCarron plays like a seasoned veteran with good leadership traits and is always under control, flashing clutch ability and the moment never seems too big. His arm strength and ball placement are just good enough, but far from ideal for the next level. A proven winner, McCarron won't make a lot of mistakes, but he can also be underwhelming as a passer and projects as a borderline NFL starter — too good to be a back-up, but not quite starting material either.”

    Final thought: McCarron could be selected in the first round, but he needs everything to fall just the right way. It’s more likely that he’ll be snatched up in the second round.

    Best guess: Second round.

C.J. Mosley

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    Linebacker C.J. Mosley is versatile enough to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme.
    Linebacker C.J. Mosley is versatile enough to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Even though he might slide a little due to the high level of talent available this year, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network is still calling linebacker C.J. Mosley a "top-10 kind of player,” especially with the NFL becoming more of a passing league in which linebackers who can drop back into coverage are in demand.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 1, 1, 1.

    Draft prep: After having elbow, hip and shoulder injuries during his career, Mosley did essentially everything at the combine except bench press. He was fluid during the field drills while demonstrating good footwork and quickness.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: No. 19 to Dolphins. B/R Draft Top 100: Second overall linebacker. “Recent evidence suggests you have to worry a little about players coming out of Alabama, and Mosley is no different. Nick Saban tends to run his players into the ground, and Mosley does have injury question marks with a shoulder injury. Still, his natural talents project him as a starter at either inside or outside linebacker.” analysis: “Smart, instinctive, fast-flowing, every-down linebacker capable of manning any position in a ‘40’ front or steering a defense from the weak side in a ‘30’ front, where he starred for a national-championship defense as a junior and carried the Tide as a senior. Has the football temperament, desire and work habits to emerge as a tackling machine in the pros. Has Pro Bowl potential.”

    What’s being said: “C.J. Mosley is somebody I think who doesn't get talked enough about,” Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said. “When you watch him on tape, in scouting we talk about guys being clean players on tape. I don't have a lot of negatives when I watch him. I thought he could play in the 3-4 defense. I thought he could take on blocks better than he gets credit for, and I think he's ideally suited to be a Mike in a 4-3.” “Tough and athletic, with the keenest instincts of any linebacker I've scouted since Lofa Tatupu, Mosley is constantly around the ball and is often making big plays as a result.”

    Final thought: ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. expects Mosley to be selected between picks eight and 21. “I think the momentum is building much more towards him moving towards the top of the draft,” Charles Davis of the NFL Network said. “I think Buffalo is a place he could easily go in the top 10 and be that guy.

    Best guess: First round.

Kevin Norwood

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    Wide receiver Kevin Norwood has only gotten more attention since his final game with Alabama.
    Wide receiver Kevin Norwood has only gotten more attention since his final game with Alabama.Associated Press

    Of all the Alabama players available in this year’s draft, no one’s stock has gone up more than wide receiver Kevin Norwood. A few months ago he was though to probably be a late-round pick, but now there are rumblings that he could potentially hear his name called at the end of the second day of the draft.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 20, 22, 18.

    Draft prep: After catching four passes for 53 years, including a touchdown, Norwood was named the most outstanding player of the South Team at the Senior Bowl. He also turned a lot of heads by notching an unofficial 4.39 time in the 40 at the combine, even though his official time wound up being 4.8. He subsequently did what he usually did at Alabama, catch nearly every ball thrown his way.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Third round to Giants. B/R Draft Top 100: No. 19 wide receiver/tight end. “As an older player (he will turn 25 on September 23), Norwood is maxed out athletically. Coming out of a pro-style atmosphere and system at Alabama, it's reasonable to wonder how much better he can get at the position.” analysis: “Quicker-than-fast possession receiver with trusted hands a quarterback cherishes in critical situations. Could develop into a reliable, third-down option route runner. Is best with free releases in the slot.”

    What’s being said: “Kevin is a crafty receiver that uses his 10 1/8-inch hands to consistently grab the football out of the air even when defenders are close,” Phil Savage said in his Senior Bowl evaluation. “He does not have the most compelling speed or quickness, but has a knack for getting himself open and making the contested catch.” “He needs to get stronger to better beat press coverage and hold up vs. physical defenders, but he is a mature route runner with excellent hand/eye coordination and reflexes at the catch point. Norwood isn’t a speed demon, but he accelerates well with natural body control. He isn’t elite in any one area, but solid across the board. He was somewhat overlooked and underutilized at Alabama, but could end up having a better pro than college career.”

    Final thought: Although it’s a deep pool of wide receivers this year, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is very high on Norwood. During a recent three-round mock exercise with colleague Todd McShay, he took him with Seattle’s pick at the end of the second round. “One thing Norwood does really well is find ways to get open after plays break down,” he said at the time. “That's a useful skill with Russell Wilson at QB."

    Best guess: Third round.

Jeoffrey Pagan

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    Defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan hasn't been able to do much for NFL scouts due to a shoulder issue.
    Defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan hasn't been able to do much for NFL scouts due to a shoulder issue.Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    One of our favorite assessments of this year’s Alabama draft class was the following by about defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan: “Built like a Coke machine — wide and heavy — and is just as difficult to move.” 

    Although he received a third-round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, Pagan made the jump to the NFL a year early due to the injury risk, as he once blew out his knee as a high school senior before attending Alabama.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 21, 15, 11.

    Draft prep: Although his size makes him an option at either end or defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, Pagan played with a shoulder injury last season. Lingering problems kept him from fully working out for NFL officials, and he had surgery after the combine.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Sixth round to Titans. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “Thickly built, relatively nondescript contributor who decided to forgo his senior season despite never establishing himself as a force. Has size and strength to warrant developmental consideration as a five-technique, but lacks exceptional traits and will have to commit to handling the dirty work to have longevity.”

    What’s being said: When he announced his early departure from Alabama, Pagan said, “I want to thank the Lord for the opportunity for being here. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to play football again. Being able to play here and achieve so much.” “The same traits that earned Pagan his lofty prep grades will excite NFL scouts. Pagan projects best as a defensive end in a traditional 3-4 alignment or at defensive tackle in a four-man front due to his size and strength. He offers little in terms of pass rush ability.”

    Final thought: Pagan has a reputation for big a hard worker who works well with coaches, but his draft stock definitely took a hit due to the shoulder. The question is, how much of a hit?

    Best guess: Fifth round. 

Anthony Steen

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    Guard Anthony Steen wears a trophy from last year's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
    Guard Anthony Steen wears a trophy from last year's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.USA TODAY Sports

    Something unusual occurred with Anthony Steen when he was at the NFL combine, and it had nothing to do with being one of the smallest offensive linemen there, having the shortest arms, or his not participating in any drills.

    It had to do with the teams that talked with him.

    “At the combine I only talked to 10-15 teams,” he said during Alabama’s second pro day in April. “It was odd. I think they were just about every single north team. I didn't talk to any south teams. I talked to a couple of south teams here in the last week or so.” 

    Regardless, he’ll be someone to keep an eye on during third day of the draft.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 11, 11, 14.

    Draft prep: After having shoulder surgery at the end of the Crimson Tide’s regular season to repair a partially torn labrum, Steen was able to fully train for just one week before working out for NFL officials in April. Afterward, the guard said he was encouraged by his progress.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Fifth round to Rams. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “Scrappy, competitive, try-hard, tough guy who does not always look pretty, but consistently finds a way to get the job done. An efficient zone blocker, Steen understands angles and leverage. He could be ideally suited for a zone-based ground game such as the Eagles, Seahawks or Packers.”

    What’s being said: “The doctors checked it out earlier and they said it was good momentum,” Steen said about his shoulder. “The pain's not there any more. I've just got to get my strength back.” “Steen hasn't been as hyped or publicly lauded as many of his Alabama teammates, but on tape there's no denying he's one of the team's better NFL prospects for 2014. Despite lacking the elite size/athleticism combination that we're growing accustomed to seeing come out of Tuscaloosa, Steen's technical consistency, toughness and instincts are exactly what NFL teams look for in the ideal guard prospect.”

    Final thought: Steen could be a mid-round gem for the right team.

    Best guess: Fourth round.


Ed Stinson

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    Defensive end Ed Stinson is the kind of player that good teams always seem to have on the depth chart.
    Defensive end Ed Stinson is the kind of player that good teams always seem to have on the depth chart.USA TODAY Sports

    Back in February, Mike Mayock of the NFL Network was asked which Alabama players stood out to him for the draft, and part of his response may have surprised some people. 

    “I like the [Ed] Stinton kid from Alabama,” the analyst said. “He might be a third-fourth rounder, but I like him.”

    Stinson isn’t flashy and didn’t’ put up gaudy numbers, but he’s one of those big, powerful players that winning teams seem to have in abundance.

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 19, 8, 13.

    Draft prep: Received an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl, but had to pull out due to a groin injury that he played with last season. He didn’t participate in any drills in Indianapolis.

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Fifth round to Redskins. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “Long-framed, long-armed, prototype five-technique capable of kicking inside and manning the nose. Very impressive strength and power. Can play anywhere along a ‘30’ front. An underrated cog in a defense, Stinson could play a long time in the league and might never receive his due outside the building.”

    What’s being said: "I wish I was able to go this week and prove to the coaches that I can pass rush," Stinson told at the combine. "They think I can't pass rush. That's why I came up to see how I felt and see what my goals can be." “He recorded ‘just’ 5.5 sacks over his career and does not possess ideal burst or acceleration to qualify as a traditional pass-rushing defensive end but his durability, position and scheme versatility and underrated athletic traits could earn him top 100 consideration despite less-than-eye-popping statistics.”

    Final thought: Stinson’s name will be in play during the third round, but things need to fall right to go that quickly.

    Best guess: Fourth round.


Vinnie Sunseri

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    Vinnie Sunseri returned both of his interceptions last season for touchdowns.
    Vinnie Sunseri returned both of his interceptions last season for touchdowns.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Trying to project when safety Vinnie Sunseri may get selected in the draft is nearly impossible after he missed the second half of last season with a torn ACL sustained against Arkansas on Oct. 19.

    “Honestly, I thought I could have played in the Sugar Bowl, which is a really sad thing,” Sunseri said about his aggressive comeback. “I felt like I could have contributed this year, and it really hurt when I got hurt. I wanted to be out there with the guys.

    “It wasn’t an easy decision for those who say it was an easy decision for me to come out. I went down to the wire with Coach [Nick] Saban. All credit goes to this establishment, this university, everything they’ve done for me. They created me. They have made me the player who I am. If I had to do it all over again, I’d never go anywhere else.”

    Position ranking (CBS/National Football Post/Scout): 7, 4* (Sunseri is mistakenly listed as a free safety, not strong safety), 16.

    Draft prep: After promising at the NFL combine, Sunseri worked out for scouts during Alabama’s second pro day and ran the 40-yard dash in approximately 4.5 seconds (his time wasn’t announced). The high point had to have been while running a drill and catching balls thrown from his brother, former Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri. “Felt like I ran a pretty good time for being five months out of surgery,” he said. 

    Matt Miller’s final mock draft: Seventh round to Redskins. B/R Draft Top 100: Not listed. analysis: “A coach's son, Sunseri has requisite athletic ability for the pro game, but his head for the game rates among his best traits. Has the size, tackling ability and dependability to make a living as a backup and core special-teams player. Draft stock could be impacted by 2013 season-ending torn ACL.”

    What’s being said: “My therapist, Kevin Wilk, has worked out a bunch of great players and the one person he worked out that I’ve tried to emulate is Adrian Peterson coming off his ACL,” Sunseri said. “He worked out Adrian Peterson and he said I’m right neck-and-neck with Adrian Peterson with how I came off my surgery, how I’ve recovered. It was just an ACL; wasn’t meniscus, wasn’t MCL, wasn’t any cartilage. So clean tear, came back good. It was a great experience, I feel awesome.” “The son of former Alabama assistant coach and current Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, Vinnie's instincts, toughness and penchant for the big play made him a fan favorite for the Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, his lack of ideal measureables and recovery from a torn ACL make his projection to the NFL much less favorable.”

    Final thought: One big thing in Sunseri’s favor is that it’s not a good year for strong safeties. He was effective against the run, hits as hard as anyone, and was always a strong special teams player for the Crimson Tide.

    Best guess: Sixth round.

Other Players

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    Wide receiver Kenny Bell is hoping that an NFL team gives him a shot.
    Wide receiver Kenny Bell is hoping that an NFL team gives him a shot.Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Crimson Tide players who were not invited to the NFL combine, and are not expected to be drafted, but could sign as free agents:

    Kenny Bell: The wide receiver finished his career with 50 receptions for 879 yards and six touchdowns, but shattered his leg against Auburn in 2012, requiring a stabilizing rod to be inserted. Still, he has good speed and ran the 40 in 4.52 seconds during Alabama’s pro day.

    Cade Foster: rates him the 10th best kicker in the draft. Something that might help get Foster into a training camp is that he made numerous tackles in kick coverage.

    John Fulton: Considering that he only started four of 49 games played for the Crimson Tide, the cornerback has to be considered a long shot. He ran the 40 in roughly 4.5 seconds during Alabama’s pro day, and will have to prove to teams that he can contribute on special teams. 

    Tana Patrick: The linebacker never cracked the starting lineup, but he’s a versatile player who can play special teams, which may be enough to get him a look as a free agent.

    Check out Matt Miller's final mock draft.


    Christopher Walsh is the lead Alabama football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 

    Follow @CrimsonWalsh