Two-deep and recruiting class evaluation: Alabama Crimson Tide

As part of my summer homework, I’ve decided to take a deep dive into the two deeps and recruiting classes of as many teams as possible.

It is a time consuming process, requiring a lot of film study, but I hope to have most of the BCS conferences fully evaluated by the season’s start.

The upside is that I should have a deep familiarity with the talent levels of most of the teams and that should serve me well here. I will probably create a separate page where people can access it as a resource. Hey, feel free to use the info for NFL betting down the road.

As a tease, I’m including here my eval of the entire Alabama two-deep and recruiting class. Will these evals turn out to be accurate? We’ll see. I am happy to put them to the test.

Let’s get a few things in order before you read these evals. It’s very important to read this if you want to understand where I’m coming from.

1. Rather than rank someone with a nebulous star rating or a happy face, I am applying an NFL draft grade to them since this is a metric that many of us understand. To be clear, when I write that someone is a first-round talent, I am not predicting that they will be selected in the first round of the draft (though some certainly will). What I am saying is that this player has physical ability commensurate with players who are typically drafted in the first round. The same standard applies with other denominations by round.

2. The two deeps, heights and weights are taken from either the school’s web site or from Rivals.com. If you quibble with who I have on the depth chart, I have no answer for you. Some of the recruit lists might not include late signees or it might include guys who won’t qualify or will grayshirt. Just take the evals for what they are in that case.

3. The purpose of these evals are to give myself and the HP audience an insight into the raw talent levels of the schools in question. Coaching and scheme are not taken into account.

4. I did not look at anyone else’s evals when doing my own evals. I did not look at stats. I did not read what coaches had to say. I did not peek to see how many or which schools offered a given recruit. In other words, I avoided outside influences as much as possible and basically just looked at as much tape as was available and made my call.

5. I know evaluations of this nature are controversial. Some of you are going to vehemently disagree with some of them. Some of you will wonder what my qualifications are for making them. All I ask is that you put my evaluations to the test in the coming seasons and we’ll see how accurate I was. In the meantime, I welcome any insights or helpful comments on these players.

6. In some cases, for speed’s sake, my evals are very brief, especially with players who I don’t need to evaluate further. Johnny Manziel? We all know about him. I don’t waste much words adding to what we already know. In other cases, I have limited or bad tape on a player and have to make a snap eval based on what I am able to see.

7. When I have all my evaluations, I will rank the teams and players according to talent level and also overall.

And here we go:

Alabama-Football-Logo

ALABAMA 2-DEEP AND RECRUITING CLASS TALENT EVALUATION

Fittingly enough, we start with Alabama, the team that (not surprisingly) stands in my evaluations as the most talented team in the country (granted, my evals are ongoing). The recruiting class itself might be the best I’ve seen, as I count something like 13 first-round talents. Nick Saban has a juggernaut going and it doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.

Terms: COD = Change of direction; FBI = Football instincts; Pass Pro=pass protection; YAC=yards after catch

(Starters are bolded)

OFFENSE

70 – Center – Ryan Kelly, 6-5, 290, RS SO
Good athlete, good feet, perfect center build
Appears smart, better run blocker than pass blocker
Potential upgrade to Barrett Jones once he gets reps
2nd Round Talent

78 – Center – Chad Lindsey, 6-2, 302, RS JR
Decent athlete, smart, strong
Plays with good leverage but bad balance in pass pro
Late Round Talent

77 – Left Guard – Arie Kouandijo, 6-5, 310, RS JR
Road grader type of guard, Very strong and physical
Good laterally, can get to 2nd level with ease
Average in pass pro, average FBI
2nd Round Talent

50 – Left Guard – Alfonse Taylor, 6-5, 335 RS FR
Massive mauler, former DL with great feet and physicalness
Very raw, a year or two away
2nd Round Talent

71 – Left Tackle – Cyrus Kouandijo, 6-7, 310, JR
Phenomenal athlete, best LT of Saban Era
Everything you look for in an LT
TOP FIVE TALENT

58 – Left Tackle – Brandon Greene, 6-5, 310 RS FR
Fantastic athlete, just needs to gain strength and experience
Should be starting on right side for now
1st round talent

61 – Right Guard – Anthony Steen, 6-3, 309, Senior
Average athlete, grinder, very experienced
Smart, but could be exposed without Fluker next to him
Late round talent

68 – Right Guard – Isaac Luatua, 6-2, 313, RS SO
Road Grader, good feet, quick
Short arms, strong, must work on pass pro
Mid round talent

79 – Right Tackle – Austin Sheperd, 6-5, 315 SR
Average athlete, waist bender, not very strong
Late round talent

72 – Right Tackle – Leon Brown, 6-6, 300 JR
Light on feet, can run, but not strong and plays upright
Doesn’t bend well, not very aggressive, poor FBI
Mid-round talent

84 – Tight End – Brian Vogler, 6-7, 260, JR
Above average athlete, good hands, good blocker
Mid-round talent

85 – Tight End – Malcolm Faciane
Good athlete, good blocker
3rd round talent

10 – Quarterback – AJ McCarron, 6-4, 210, SR
Good game manager and leader
Good arm, efficient, good accuracy on deep ball
Not big or strong, average athlete, has improved greatly
3rd Round Talent

6 – Quarterback – Blake Sims, 6-0, 200, JR
Phenomenal athlete
Great runner with speed and power, amazing vision
Strong but inconsistent arm
3rd Round Talent

4 – Running Back – TJ Yeldon, 6-2, 220, SO
Smooth runner with good flexibility and power
Good but not great long speed; quick feet in traffic
Great vision and cutback ability; very athletic
Natural talent with soft hands
1st Round Talent

17 – Running Back – Kenyan Drake, 6-1, 201, SO
Good interior runner, lacks top end speed
5th round talent.

9 – Wide Receiver – Amari Cooper, 6-1, 202, SO
Great deep ball WR, good but not elite speed
Strong with good balance and leaping ability
Good YAC
1st Round Talent

7 – Wide Receiver – Kenny Bell, 6-1 180, SR
Deep threat. Good YAC. Good speed. Not very big.
4th round talent.

83 – Wide Receiver – Kevin Norwood, 6-2, 195, SR
Long strider. Good route runner. Possession guy.
Mid-round talent.

2 – Wide Receiver – DeAndrew White, 6-0, 190, JR
Kinky playmaker lacking top end speed.
Mid-round talent

Defense

8 – Defensive Tackle – Jeoffrey Pagan, 6-4, 290 JR
Elite talent. Fantastic pass rusher. Great size/speed combo
1st Round Talent

44 – Defensive Tackle — Michael Fanning, 6-7, 270, RS SO
Rangy, long-armed, good athlete, not sudden, needs strength
3rd round talent

49 – Defensive End – Ed Stinson, 6-4, 290, SR
Good athlete, average FBI, strong and fast
2nd round talent.

54 – Defensive End – Dalvin Tomlinson, 6-2, 289, SO
Excellent COD, explosive, fast, better suited for 4-3 NG
2nd round talent

99 – Nose Guard – Brandon Ivory, 6-4, 310, JR
Average quickness off snap. Good COD. Strong. Not dynamic.
Mid-round talent.

51 – Nose Guard – Wilson Love, 6-4, 286, SO
Converted end. Very quick, but undersized.
Late Round Talent.

42 – Outside Linebacker – Adrian Hubbard, 6-6, 260, JR
Elite athlete. Great range and wingspan. Nose for ball. Physical.
1st round talent.

7 – Outside Linebacker – Ryan Anderson, 6-2, 255, SO
Good all around. Solid player, not special.
5th round talent.

47 – Outside Linebacker – Xzavier Dickson, 6-3, 264 JR
Big and strong but a bit lumbering. Can have issues in space.
4th round talent

30 – Outside Linebacker – Denzel Duvall, 6-2, 250 SO
Average athlete.
6th round talent

33 – Inside Linebacker – Trey DePriest, 6-2, 245, JR
Solid athlete, very strong and physical.
3rd round talent.

18 – Inside Linebacker – Reggie Ragland – 6-2, 260, SO
Good athlete. Drag em down type. Nothing special.
5th round talent.

32 – Inside Linebacker – CJ Moseley, 6-2, 232, SR
Incredible athlete. Sideline to sideline pursuer. Great in pass coverage.
1st round talent.

11 – Inside Linebacker – Tana Patrick, 6-3, 240, SR
Nothing special.
Late round talent.

24 – Cornerback – Geno Smith – 6-0, 190, SO
Good COD, good hips, smooth, but lacks top end speed.
3rd round talent.

10 – Cornerback – John Fulton, 6-1, 190, SR
Okay player. Lacks top end. Better at FS?
Late Round Talent.

13 – Cornerback – Deion Belue, 5-11, 185, JR
Lightning fast playmaker, incredible COD, great PR
1st round talent.

16 – Cornerback – Bradley Sylve, 5-11, 180, SO
Elite speed. A bit slight.
2nd round talent.

6 – Safety – Hasean Clinton-Dix, 6-1, 209, JR
Great range, big hitter, strong,
good speed for size, physical
1st round talent.

26 – Safety – Landon Collins, 6-0, 215, SO
Good range. More fast than quick. Big hitter.
2nd round talent.

3 – Safety – Vinnie Sunseri, 6-0, 210, JR
Great instincts, big hitter, playmaker, liability in coverage
3rd round talent

27 – Safety – Nick Perry, 6-1, 212, SR
Long strider, great leaper, average FBI
Late round talent.

Recruiting Class

Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 263, DE
Fantastic athlete. Should play early. 1st round talent.

Anthony Averett, 6-1, 170, Athlete
Should redshirt, good corner prospect. Mid-round talent.

Cooper Batemen, 6-3, 190, QB
Good mobility, good arm, accurate
Will redshirt and challenge for job in ’14. Mid-round talent.

Jonathan Cook, 6-0, 185, DB
Zone corner, possession receiver type, good natural FB player. Late round talent.

Raheem Falkins, 6-4, 195, WR
Big possession WR, strong overpowering type, possible H-back. Late round talent.

Ruben Foster, 6-1, 245, LB
Perfect size for MLB, explosive, super athlete, great COD, not super physical. 1st round talent.

Robert Foster, 6-3, 190, WR
Very athletic. Very good speed, but not elite. Good wiggle and vision with ball after catch. Skinny. 2nd round talent.

Derrick Henry, 6-3, 245, RB
Amazing feet for a man his size. Can def play RB and be a great one. 1st round talent.

Grant Hill, 6-6, 300, OG
Light on his feet, good leverage, good redirect, gets to 2nd level, solid athlete. 2nd round talent.

OJ Howard, 6-6, 220, TE
Freakish athlete. Best TE prospect since at least Marcedes Lewis. 1st round talent.

Eddie Jackson, 6-2, 190, WR
Long strider, good athlete, smooth, better suited for free safety. Late round talent.

Tyren Jones, 5-9, 215, RB
Very fast and explosive but maybe a slight step short of elite speed.  Slight stiffness there. 2nd round talent.

Walker Jones, 6-2, 234 LB
Good feet, slightly slow to redirect, not explosive, good ball skills. Mid round talent.

Alvin Kamara, 5-10, 200, RB
Great speed but more fast than quick, decisive to the hole, great vision. 2nd round talent.

Dee Liner, 6-3, 280, DE
Crazy athlete, incredible pass rusher, fast twitch explosive to the ball carrier. 1st round talent.

Parker McLeod, 6-3, 190, QB
Good mechanics and footwork, good arm, accurate down the field, swift release.  Mid-round talent.

Darius Page, 6-4, 314, DT
Amazing feet for his size. Ideal at NG. Big trunk, very strong, absurd ability to redirect. 1st round talent.

A’Shawn Robinson, 6-4, 320, DT
Already very strong. Light on feet. A bit upright and lethargic. 2nd round talent.

Maurice Smith, 6-0, 180, CB
Excellent athlete. Incredible hips and ability to turn/redirect. Good closing speed. 1st round talent.

Adarius Stewart, 6-1, 190, Athlete
A free safety. A bit skinny and weak. Average athlete. Late round talent.

Altee Tenpenny, 6-0, 212, RB
A lot like Yeldon with his size and speed. Great overal RB. 1st round talent.

Tim Williams, 6-3, 235, DE
Light on his feet. Runs upright. Not physical. Athletic. Great COD.  5th round talent.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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8 Responses to Two-deep and recruiting class evaluation: Alabama Crimson Tide

  1. Remy74 July 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    SMDH at these evaluations. You really should research more.

    Reuben Foster- Not Super Physical?

    Tyren Jones- Stiffness?

  2. HP July 23, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    You do realize that I gave Foster a first round grade and Jones a second round grade, right?

  3. GB July 23, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Good stuff. The only eval I can’t understand is Steen as a late rounder. I can tell you what you didn’t see reviewing last year’s film is a penalty called against or a sack allowed by him. He will surprise people this year, sandwiched between a new OT and center will highlight his abilities. I firmly believe he’ll be a 3rd-4th round pick.

    • Heismanpundit July 25, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      GB —

      Keep in mind that these evals are not predicting where a player will be drafted, but what kind of physical tools he possesses.

      It is certainly possible for someone with late-round physical ability to play his way into being a 4th round pick. Production matters and there are plenty of situations where a player’s reputation causes him to be drafted higher than he normally would be.

      Conversely, someone with 1st round talent could lack in production or not put it all together in other areas and end up going later in the draft.

      Those are variables that are unknown and much harder to gauge. These evals only look at physical ability.

  4. BigBoi July 25, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I appreciate the time and effort you took to do this, but I hope the next time you do one, you actually do a little more research and watch a little more film before you publish. You describe several Alabama players using superlatives that are clearly false to anyone who is close to the Alabama program. How do I know you need to look at more film? Because anyone who has looked at the film and done the research would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that some of your descriptions are patently false. There are too many to go through so let me just point out two of the more egregious errors–one concerning a current player and one concerning an incoming player.

    Amari Cooper – “good but not elite speed.”

    If you had done your homework you would know that this, is in fact, completely false. Alabama has about 5 to 10 players on the squad right now with “elite” speed. That means they are going to run in the 4.4 range or lower. Bradley Sylve is the fastest player on the team and he can run it in the 4.2x – 4.3x range. Amari Cooper is the second fastest on the team. So, yes, Amari Cooper does have elite speed. Hell, if you watched any of Bama’s games last year you would have seen first hand how he can simply outrun people down the field to get open.

    Reuben Foster – “not super physical.”

    While the Amari error made me cringe, this one made me laugh out loud. I’m not even going to describe just how wrong you are about this, but if you would have watched any of his high school film, you would understand that he is absolutely one of the most physical players to EVER play high school football in Alabama (or Georgia for that matter). I personally have not seen film of a linebacker that looks as fierce and ferocious as Reuben Foster’s. He obliterates anyone in his way and when he makes impact on another player, trust me, they don’t want any more. He is violently physical.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ELt3SauYQ0

    I’m guessing the kid at the 1:25 mark would also disagree with your assessment of Reuben’s physicality.

    Also, I guess I should add while your superlatives aren’t accurate, your draft position on both players is accurate. So kudos for that.

    Until we meet again, heisman pundit. BigBoi, signing off. Peace.

  5. HP July 25, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Thanks for your reply, BigBoi.

    Let me address a couple of your concerns.

    1. I would worry less about the details of what I write and take more credence in my overall eval. For instance, I gave both Cooper and Foster FIRST ROUND GRADES. That means I am calling them elite prospects. However, even elite prospects have less than perfectly ideal qualities and this is where you have to have a good eye for talent evaluation to discern them.

    2. If you like, I will explain my rationale on the two matters you bring up. First off, Cooper’s speed. If you’ve ever read me before, you know that I do not place any stock in 40 times, which are not accurate and should never be relied upon for evaluations. You can read why right here: http://heismanpundit.com/2013/06/14/the-fastest-players-in-college-football-2013/

    I say in my evals that Sylve has elite speed because he has run better than 10.5 in the 100m (my standard for being elite in football) and as fast as 10.19 wind-aided. So, yes, I am very aware of their speed and how to gauge it. Cooper does not have any corresponding track times to verfiy his speed and it is very rare that a guy is a 10.5 or better guy who does not have a time to show for it. This boils down to what my definition of ‘elite’ constitutes and saying that Cooper is not elite does not mean he is slow. He is fast, just not among the fastest players in college football, is what I am saying.

    As for Foster (again, a 1st round grade talent wise), I said that he wasn’t ‘super’ physical. That does not mean he isn’t physical at all, it just means that his game is not based on physicality, but instead is based on speed and athleticism. He is not particularly proficient at taking on or shedding blocks at this point, which is what I mean when I say he’s not ‘super’ physical. At this point, he relies on his athleticism to run around guys and knife through gaps and is not called upon to fill assignments like he will be asked to do at the next level.

    When you evaluating talent, you have to look at all possible flaws and then weigh them with their attributes. Both these guys are first round talents and to quibble with these evals when I am calling these guys elite players is pretty silly, in my opinion.

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