Who’s Next?: Alabama Players Remaining in the Draft
Alabama had 2 players selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, making 16 overall first rounders for Nick Saban in his career at the Capstone. But there are still 6 more rounds of drafting left, and many more former Bama players are still waiting to hear their names called. Where will these players end up?
Cyrus Kouandjio was once considered a top 10 pick, but his named was not called last night, despite 4 offensive tackles going in the 1st round. Questions about his knee, a lackluster performance in the Sugar Bowl and a disastrous combine showing have really lowered his value, and many teams have gone with safer picks. Kouandjio is still an imposing figure and has the length many NFL teams want in a top offensive tackle. I would imagine he gets selected in the second round, though he may continue to slide.
AJ McCarron was the QB for 2 straight title teams at Alabama, but that doesn't mean NFL teams are fighting to draft him. McCarron still ranks behind several other QBs on the waiting list, yet he claims scouts told him he could go between the 16th and 35th overall picks. That claim looks highly unlikely. McCarron doesn't possess the down field accuracy of a top prospect, and his recent media tour has done more harm than good. Still, he has size and a strong arm, which are always welcome traits in the NFL. Expect him to go late 2nd to early 3rd.
Adrian Hubbard has the measurables to be a top NFL prospect, but that only translated to limited success on the field at Alabama. Hubbard could also suffer from being to much of a hybrid. He's too big to be a linebacker but too small to be a defensive end. The same issue kept Courtney Upshaw out of the 1st round 2 years ago. But there were no questions about Upshaw's motor. Hubbard has yet to prove why he should be rewarded as a high pick, and he'll slip to the 3rd round because of it. The same can be said for Jeoffery Pagan, who came out a year early despite needing a lot of improvement.
Kevin Norwood is on the opposite side of that spectrum. Unheralded before the season started, Norwood finished strong and wowed at the combine, raising his stock all the way to the 3rd round. Someone needs a tall, reliable receiver and should swipe Norwood sooner rather than later. Fellow receiver Kenny Bell has not gotten as much praise. Still, he has great speed and is a force on long passes. Bell might not get drafted, but he will make a team this year.
Vinnie Sunseri turned a lot of heads when he announced he was leaving early. Not only was he coming off a serious injury, but he was not a highly regarded prospect to begin with. His size is an issue, and his coverage skills are average at best. He was a hard worker and fantastic tackler, but those are a dime-a-dozen in the NFL. It was also weird how he left Bama, making many wonder if there was a falling out with Saban or another coach. I don't see Sunseri being drafted. There's too much working against him. Hate to see it from such a blue-collar guy, but the NFL has a higher standard.
Anthony Steen should be an interesting player to watch. Steen didn't have the size of his counterparts on Bama's great O-lines, but he has great experience against top competition and is a tremendous run-blocker. I think he could be a surprise and go higher than many expect, maybe early 3rd. Guards go later in the draft than tackles, but a lot will be taken so Steen has a great opportunity.
Finally, look for Ed Stinson to turn some heads in the draft. Stinson was not the most consistent player, but his motor is good and his size is acceptable. He should go 5th to 6th round. However, once he's on a team he could really make some noise.
The 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft start tonight at 6 pm CT. Stay tuned to Tide 99.1 for complete coverage.