Alabama moves toward the 2010 season hoping to defend their national title but do so under the cloud of an NCAA investigation into at least one of their top players.  While the Tide offers outstanding next level talent, a few of their well known underclassmen prospects are overrated in our opinion.  Here’s a breakdown of the team favored to bring home the trophy for the second consecutive year.

Experience has shown that winning the Heisman Trophy does not necessarily translate into success on the NFL level.  Nothing could be further from the truth for the 2009 recipient, Mark Ingram.

A complete ball carrier, Ingram has a nice combination of size, speed and power.  He consistently runs north/south, shows incredible strength in his lower body and easily breaks tackles, staying on his feet, then quickly regaining balance to pick up extra yardage.  Ingram also runs smart, showing patience, picking and choosing his spots besides displaying the ability to cut back into the open field.  He hits the hole hard, has a burst and runs with authority.  Though not a real elusive or creative runner, Ingram possesses better than average corner speed.    He’s a top-flight prospect for the next level.

Receiver Julio Jones is highly rated by many and though we like his skills, Jones’ game has a number of flaws.  He displays strong hands, plucks the fastball from the air and quickly transitions from making the reception to running after the catch.  He’s tough to bring down running after the reception, has opposing defensive backs playing back on their heels and can be an effective downfield blocker when he gives effort.  That said Jones loses out in battles too often, loses concentration and drops some very catchable throws.  When our top 25 for 2011 was initially posted in May we ranked Jones as the third best NFL prospect in the nation.  That will soon change as he will drop after extensive film review.

Offensive lineman James Carpenter is a college left tackle better off in confined quarters.  Carpenter makes good use of blocking angles and is a solid position blocker that bends his knees and works to play with leverage.  Strong at the point, he easily controls defenders once engaged in a block. Carpenter is heavy footed and struggles sliding out to protect the edge at left tackle. We think he’ll get looks on the right side or at guard in camp next year.

Marquis Maze is a terrific prospect who shows solid downfield speed, runs good routes yet struggles in battles.   He’s a great compliment to Jones and a potential number four at the next level.

Defensively Marcell Dareus is another Tide junior who is going to take a hit on our draft board.  Dareus flashes power, strength at the point and holds his ground against blocks.   Playing low to the ground, he works his hands throughout the action and can be a menacing force at tackle or end.  Dareus moves well on his feet and strings plays to the sidelines.  That said he does not always seem to chase the action hard and we feel he should be more forceful and productive than he is.  The recent NCAA probe looms large as to whether or not Dareus takes the field this season.

Mark Barron is a terrific prospect and a safety effective against the run and pass.  Very effective in zone coverage, Barron is aggressive but also remains disciplined with assignments in zone.  He’s a strong open field tackler and forceful up the field on the blitz.   He’s also sized well and offers a good amount of upside.

Alabama Pro-Prospects

Round Full Name Pos Number Year
1st Mark Ingram RB 57 3Jr
1st Marcell Dareus DE 22 3Jr
1st Julio Jones WR 8 3Jr
3rd Mark Barron S 4 3Jr
3rd Don’ta Hightower OLB 30 3Jr
6-7 James Carpenter T 77 4Sr
FA Marquis Maze WR 4 4Jr
FA Darius Hanks WR 15 4Sr
FA Greg McElroy QB 12 5Sr
FA William Vlachos C 73 4Sr

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