Road To The 2013 NFL Draft: Alabama 41 – Michigan 14

The scouting process for the draft runs primarily from September through mid-April. The athletic testing portion of the evaluation process takes center stage starting in February. However, how NFL draft prospects perform in actual football games is what matters most. Here is a closer look at some of the notable prospects in the Alabama-Michigan contest and their impact on the outcome:LT Taylor Lewan, Michigan, Junior: It was a long day for the Wolverines trying to run the ball (69 rushing yards on 29 attempts (2.4 per) against the Crimson Tide. Lewan did not get much movement, along with the rest of his linemates against Alabama. The talented junior was more impressive when pass blocking. He displayed fine balance, long arms and awareness when pressure was coming to his side. Denard Robinson did have time to hit some passes early, but was simply unable to do so. Lewan also was flagged for a couple of penalties.QB Denard Robinson, Michigan, Senior: The Alabama defense represented a tough test for Robinson due to their speed and how well coached they are. Unfortunately, the Michigan quarterback played poorly (11 completions in 26 attempts (42%) for 200 yards (7.7 yards per attempt), 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 10 carries for 27 yards (2.7 per), 1 touchdown) and many of his shortcomings were on full display. Robinson lacks the size and build NFL teams look for at quarterback and also the accuracy. Michigan needed their quarterback to be sharp and Robinson missed receivers by throwing the ball high, low and behind receivers.His stare down of a receiver going over the middle on a pass from his end zone resulted in an easy pick-six by an Alabama linebacker (C.J. Mosley). Robinson did not run as much as many expected him to. He seemed almost determined early on to prove that he could beat Alabama from the pocket (he couldn’t). The Michigan star is a terrific college player, but he is similar to former West Virginia quarterback, Pat White. Miami took White in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL draft and he proved to be a bust. Robinson is a dangerous runner in the open field, but he will have to show at the Senior Bowl that he is willing to be a receiver to play in the NFL.The transition from college quarterback to NFL receiver is not an easy one. Pat White had no interest in making the transition and thus had a cup (more like a sip) of coffee in the league. Antwaan Randle El successfully made the transition from quarterback to receiver in the NFL, but the Panthers are still waiting for Armanti Edwards to do so. It is going to be interesting to see what Robinson’s attitude and commitment is going to be regarding a position change.CB Dee Milliner, Alabama, Junior: Did anyone notice that Dre Kirkpatrick entered the 2012 NFL draft? Milliner was the most impressive player on Alabama’s reloaded defense (5 tackles, 4 passes broken up and 1 interception). His physical coverage on Roy Roundtree completely knocked him off of his route (and feet on one play) and led to his interception. The most impressive part of Milliner’s display was his ability to locate the ball in the air and knock it away. He was able to do this on a number of routes, including slants. His anticipation of slant routes was outstanding. Milliner is an effective tackler and likes to come up quickly to help in run support. The Alabama cornerback surrendered a touchdown late when his feet became entangled with the receiver, but that and an early missed tackle were his only blemishes.C Barrett Jones, Alabama, Senior: The Alabama offensive line dominated Michigan’s defensive line. The versatile Jones was right in the middle of this domination. Jones is in his first year at center after previously playing left tackle and guard for Alabama. Jones took to the new position extremely well. He helped open holes in the ground game with a combination of size, strength and solid technique. His shotgun snaps were accurate. Jones also made good decisions in pass protection and knew whom to block. He should only improve as the season progresses and NFL teams will love his versatility.S Robert Lester, Alabama, Senior: Lester was credited with only one tackle, but he provided tight coverage early on a couple of Michigan incompletions. The Crimson Tide safety came up quickly on dumpoff passes to limit gains. Lester had a solid game despite what the stat sheet indicates.OT D.J Fluker, Alabama, Junior: The Crimson Tide’s massive right tackle showed some flaws to his game. Fluker is a powerful run blocker and can overwhelm a defensive lineman when he latches on. However, Fluker reaches a lot and his feet did not look nimble at times. He can be beaten with quickness and lacks top recovery ability.TE Michael Williams, Alabama, Senior: Williams caught only one pass for a 2-yard touchdown for Bama’s first score. He used a quick release to get wide open on the play. The big tight end blocked well from a variety of positions. Williams is a legitimate NFL tight end in terms of size and blocking prowess. He also is a solid athlete who could be more productive in the pass receiving department in the pros. NFL teams will follow Williams closely despite likely pedestrian receiving numbers in Alabama’s offense.ILB C.J. Mosley, Alabama, Junior: The athletic Mosley led Alabama with 7 tackles and also intercepted a pass for a touchdown. One of the reasons Michigan could not run outside was the speed of Mosley. He was quick to locate Michigan running backs and delivered a powerful hit to take them down. Mosley read Denard Robinson’s eyes on his interception and easily picked-off the pass by stepping in front of the intended target. It was a poor play by Robinson, but give Mosley credit for making a big play. Many players put themselves in a position to make a play, but they fail to execute and drop the pass. Mosley was adept at slipping blocks and made a nuisance of himself all game.G Chance Warmack, Alabama, Senior: The huge guard helped open holes in the running game. Warmack showed hustle and decent mobility when he ran downfield on a screen pass. His sturdy base and powerful punch helped him negate the defensive lineman in front of him. Warmack is light on his feet for such a big man. The two biggest questions NFL teams will want to see from him are his ability to handle terrific quickness and can he keep his weight under control?ILB Nico Johnson, Alabama, Senior: Johnson’s speed, strength and ability to diagnose plays quickly helped stuff Michigan’s running game. His five tackles were workmanlike and Johnson is just a very solid linebacker. Johnson fills a hole hard and is a good form tackler. Michigan’s running backs had little yards after contact and Johnson was one reason why.RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama, Junior: Lacy left the game early with an ankle injury (not serious) and finished with 9 carries for 35 yards (3.9 per) and 1 touchdown. He also caught one pass for 10 yards. Lacy did a poor job in pass protection early in the game and failed to help protect his quarterback when a Michigan defensive lineman broke free. Lacy is a powerful back who lacks nifty feet and top speed. Lacy will break arm tackles and it is important to wrap him up when tackling. He played second fiddle to Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson the past two seasons. Unfortunately, his ankle injury enabled top freshman running back, T.J. Yeldon, to strut his stuff. Yeldon looked quicker and more explosive than Lacy and probably a shared carries situation will take place.


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