With the College Football National Championship coming up on Monday night, I’m breaking down the 2017 NFL Draft prospects to keep an eye on from both Clemson and Alabama. With these being the two best teams in the nation, there are plenty of players on each team projected to be drafted this year.
I’ve already covered Clemson’s top draft prospects and Alabama’s are listed below.
Alabama Draft Prospects:
#93 DL Jonathan Allen (6’3 | 291 | 4.85) – One of the best all-around defensive line prospects to enter the draft in years. Allen is a versatile beast who can play all over the line of scrimmage and be a force both as a pass rusher and run stopper.
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The only knock on Allen is his lack of ideal length and bulk for an NFL d-linemen, but he came to Bama as a 268-pound outside linebacker so he’s already bulked up as much as can be expected. At 291 pounds, he’s big enough to play anywhere on the line except maybe nose tackle. He has the skill set to excel as a one, three, or five technique.
That versatility to play multiple positions in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme has plenty of value, but it’s Allen’s ability to control the line of scrimmage that makes him unique. He has the quickness to generate pressure on quarterbacks, the power to hold the point against the run, and the violent hands to shed blockers and make plays on the ball. His play recognition and awareness are also elite.
Allen is the total package where ever he’s used on the defensive line and is a legit contender for the number one overall pick.
Projection: Top-5 overall
#10 ILB Rueben Foster (6’1 | 236 | 4.72) – Prototype inside linebacker with the skill-set to play in any NFL scheme. There are very few weaknesses in Foster’s game as he’s excelled at everything he’s been asked to do for the Tide the last two seasons. He was overshadowed at times by Reggie Ragland last year but has stepped up this season to be the leader on a defense more talented than some NFL teams.
Foster is a sideline-to-sideline run stopper who makes up for just average speed with elite instincts and textbook tackling technique. He’s quick enough to beat blockers to the hole and strong enough to shed them if he doesn’t.
Foster is also a vicious hitter who reads plays quickly, gets to where the ball is going to be, and finishes plays with authority. He occasionally will misread or overrun the play, but changes directions quickly enough to adjust and still make the tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, Foster had the highest run-stopping grade in the nation this year.
He’d be a top inside linebacker prospect on his run-stopping skills alone, but Foster is also one of the best coverage linebackers in college football. His ability to read routes and react quickly is unique for a linebacker that is so good against the run. His combination of power against the run and skill in coverage has drawn comparisons to All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Keuchly.
Foster wasn’t asked to blitz often but was effective when he did with four sacks. There really aren’t any holes in Foster’s game. Inside linebackers are rarely drafted in the top ten overall, but on talent alone, Foster is a top five pick.
*I’m only about a hundred or so players into my draft scouting this year, but Foster’s highlight reel is by far my favorite so far. His vicious hits remind me of former Bears linebacker Wilbur Marshall. It’s too bad Foster can’t replace the modern neck roll he wears occasionally with the old school one that Marshall wore.
Projection: Top 10 pick