Alabama Football: Breaking Down the Crimson Tide's 2014 NFL Draft Prospects

Breaking Down the Crimson Tide's 2014 NFL Draft Prospects

1/29/14 in NCAAF   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Alabama's football program has been dominant ever since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007. The Crimson Tide have been ranked No. 1 in the AP poll at some point during each of the past six seasons and have churned out a number of quality NFL players during that span.

This year is no different, as Alabama boasts a number of prospects who are expected to be selected in this year's NFL draft. Here is a look at a few of its best prospects, listed in order of how CBS Sports ranks them:

ILB C.J. Mosley (6-foot-2, 232 lbs): Alabama's best defender has developed from a passing down specialist into a true three-down linebacker. Mosley has the rare ability to defend athletic tight ends in pass coverage, which is a skill growing more important in the NFL each season. He as also turned into a stout run defender who covers the whole field thanks to his athleticism and elite instincts. He may need to get bigger, particularly if he wants to play inside linebacker at the next level, but he's a lock to be drafted in the first round, possibly the top 15.

Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6) celebrates his interception on a pass intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (not pictured) during the second half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY SportsFS/SS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6-foot-1, 209 lbs): The full package on the back end of Alabama's defense, Clinton-Dix will likely be the first safety off the board in May. He's got great instincts and ball skills, and he also tackles well. His combination of size and explosiveness, however, is probably what will have scouts drooling the most. Though he was not regularly a big hitter at Alabama, he has all the tools to lay people out at the next level. It would be a shock to see him drop out of the first round.

OT Cyrus Kouandjio (6-foot-6, 314 lbs): The size and athleticism are both there, but Kouandjio did not improve his technique in 2013 the way that scouts had hoped. Even so, Kouandjio has loads of raw talent and has faced the stiffest competition in all of amateur football during both SEC games and Alabama's practices. The emergence of Auburn's Greg Robinson probably won't help Kouandjio's stock (Robinson is now widely considered to have the most potential of any draft eligible tackle), but he still has a solid shot at being drafted in the top 20.

QB A.J. McCarron (6-foot-4, 214 lbs): He may not have the strongest arm, but McCarron's 36-4 record along with two national championship victories are enough to turn the heads of pro scouts. McCarron is viewed by most as a potentially great game manager, but the evaluations are all over the place. Reports suggest that some believe that McCarron is a lock to be a starter, while others feel he's destined to be a career backup. Something that scared me was that McCarron was rarely under pressure behind his elite line at Alabama, and when I saw the pass rush get to him, he often looked flustered. Of course, it only takes one team to make a prospect's dream come true, so McCarron could very well be a second day pick.

OG Anthony Steen (6-foot-3, 309 lbs): Has the look of a low floor, high ceiling type prospect. Steen wins with sound fundamentals and technique rather than athleticism, and he seems to be maxed out physically. He could be a fine cog for an NFL offensive line, but the lack of upside will likely see him drop to the middle rounds. What does bode well for Steen's draft stock is that he can play both guard spots and even has some experience at center. He could be selected on the second day, but could very well go early on the third day, as well.
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