NFL Draft Prospects: Alabama

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /
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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

#56 OLB Tim Williams (6’3 | 252 | 4.76) – Was used mostly as a pass-rush specialist early in his career with Bama, but added weight in the offseason and has been more of a complete outside linebacker this season.

Williams might have the most explosive first step in this year’s draft and has used it to rush the passer effectively with 18.5 sacks over the last two years and pressures on 27% of his snaps (average is 10% according to PFF). He does a good job anticipating the snap, but even when he guesses wrong his first step is quick enough to win anyway.

He uses his lack of height to his advantage, getting as low to the ground when he turns the corner as any pass rusher I’ve seen this year. With his speed and low trajectory off the edge,  it makes him almost impossible for taller tackles to deal with.

His lack of ideal length is one knock on Williams as is his inexperience playing against the run and in coverage. He could be an impact pass rush specialist in the NFL right now but will need to show he can set the edge against the run consistently and occasionally drop into coverage if he’s going to be a three-down OLB in the NFL.

Williams has flashed the ability to do both when given the chance this season, he just hasn’t had enough opportunity to prove it on a regular basis. That’s the downside, I guess, of playing on a defensive loaded with future NFL players.

Pass rushers are always in demand during the NFL draft and that’s Williams’ strength. Even if the rest of his game doesn’t develop, his explosiveness off the edge has enough value to get him drafted early in the first round.

Projection: Top 15 pick

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

#74 OT Cam Robinson (6’6 | 310 | 5.12) – A three-year starter who was once thought of as a potential top-five pick overall. His draft stock has dropped a bit over the last two years but in a weak offensive line class, Robinson could be the first tackle selected.

He has the size, strength, and quick feet to eventually develop into a starting left tackle in the NFL, but he is taking longer to develop than expected when he won the starting left tackle job as an Alabama freshman.

At times Robinson looks like an elite pass blocker with quick enough feet to beat speed rushers to the edge, the knee bend to absorb power, and the long arms to keep defenders at bay. Other times he looks like he’s still a freshman with sloppy technique and poor hand placement.

Robinson is more developed as a run blocker. He plays with a nasty demeanor, has the strength to drive defenders off the ball, and is quick enough to be the lead blocker on outside runs. His more advanced run blocking skills make some evaluators think that his future is at guard in the NFL, but I’d be surprised if teams gave up on his potential to protect the blind side.

The talent is there for Robinson to become an above-average left tackle, but he needs to be more consistent with his pass blocking technique to get there. Even with a few flaws in his game, Robinson probably has more upside than any tackle prospect in this year’s draft and shouldn’t make it out of the first round.

Projection: 1st round