Amari Cooper*, WR, Alabama
Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. Projected 40 Time: 4.40. Projected Round (2015): Top-10 Pick.
4/27/15: It is a tough choice in who to rank first between Cooper and Kevin White, but the sense I get from speaking with teams is Cooper being rated first. Cooper is a future No. 1 NFL receiver who clearly has the size/speed combination to present a constant mismatch. The junior had a string of dominant performances in 2014 that showed his great route-running, speed, hands, run-after-the-catch ability and skills to fight for 50-50 balls. Cooper had a number of huge games against the likes of Auburn (13-244-3), Tennessee (9-224-2), and Florida (10-201-3). He amassed 124 receptions for 1,727 yards with 16 touchdowns for the season.
Cooper has the speed to get separation with the size to outfight defensive backs for the ball. He seems to get overeager at times, and that can lead to some drops, but he is generally reliable. As a prospect, Cooper isn't as elite as Sammy Watkins or A.J. Green. However, Cooper could be a similar level prospect to Odell Beckham Jr., and that means Cooper is a good bet to turn into a future No. 1 and Pro Bowl-caliber wideout.
8/27/14: After a rough sophomore season in 2013, there has been buzz that Cooper is healthy and ready to have a big year. Alabama has lost some veteran receivers, so Cooper will be expected to fill the void and help the Crimson Tide break in a new quarterback. When healthy, Cooper can be an explosive play-maker who also has good size.
It would be surprising if junior doesn't see a lot of targets. He should be a great fit in Lane Kiffin's West Coast offense and Kiffin likes to throw often. At USC, Kiffin locked on to a lead receiver and constantly fed him the ball, see Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Cooper should be that player for Kiffin in 2014.
Cooper collected 45 receptions for 736 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, but was dealing with a toe injury that really slowed him down. Cooper had a great freshman season and helped Alabama repeat as National Champions. Even though there were more experienced receivers, Cooper carried the Crimson Tide passing attack. He caught 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. No other receiver had 30 receptions or 500 yards through the air.
Cooper has speed and plays bigger than his size. Some believe that he is in the running as the best wide receiver in the nation.
Landon Collins*, S, Alabama
Height: 6-0. Weight: 228. 40 Time: 4.53. Projected Round (2015): 1-2.
4/25/15: Sources say that for the NFL, Collins is a strong safety type who will do well playing in the tackle box. He is not a deep free safety who can cover receivers or tight ends in man coverage. That could hurt him on draft day. Evaluators feel that Collins is a solid player, but some teams have graded him in Round 2 even though he probably will end up going in the first round. Collins had a solid 40 time at the Combine.
Collins recorded 103 tackles with seven passes broken up and three interceptions in 2014. He had a mixed game Iron Bowl as he was beaten for some pass receptions, including a long one to Sammie Coates, but also had nine tackles and a pass broken up. That performance just served to confirm that Collins is a strong safety for the NFL.
Against Ole Miss, Collins was picked on and burned for two touchdowns, but it should have been worse as he was all but beaten for another long touchdown by a tight end who dropped the pass. Collins had a lot of trouble in pass coverage versus the Rebels, and that tape will cause NFL teams to question whether he has the coverage skills to run with receiving tight ends and backs out of the backfield.
Taking on Arkansas, Collins made a game-clinching interception on a pass thrown up for grabs. He totaled eight tackles with a tackle for a loss, two passes broken up and the interception in that contest. Collins had a great game against Florida with five tackles along with an interception and two passes broken up.
8/27/14: The Crimson Tide has been a talent factory for defensive backs for the NFL, and Collins is the program's 2015 model. He had 70 tackles with four tackles for a loss, six passes broken up, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2013. Collins was a real play-maker for Alabama down the stretch after an injury to Vinnie Sunseri gave Collins more playing time. He had some missed coverages and tackles in the bowl game against Oklahoma, but otherwise Collins was impressive.
Scouts told WalterFootball.com that in the second half of the season, there were stretches where Collins was Alabama's best defender, even better than C.J. Mosley. Collins could be improved in 2014 having gained some experience.
Collins has good size with the speed to make plays all over the field. He did a nice job of playing as the eighth man in the box and functioning in pass coverage. With HaHa Clinton-Dix in the NFL, Alabama could play Collins as a deep free safety more often.
T.J. Yeldon*, RB, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 226. 40 Time: 4.61. Projected Round (2015): 1-2.
4/27/15: Yeldon went under the radar in a crowded running back class, but he is talented with a good skill set. Sources say that Yeldon could be a second-round steal and multiple franchises feel that Yeldon is being underrated. A lot of teams like Yeldon and are targeting him at the top of the second round. Some teams think that Yeldon could go late in the first round.
For the next level, Yeldon should drop some weight. That was apparent at the Combine as he ran slower than expected, as if that weren't already clear the past two seasons. Like the Steelers Le'Veon Bell, if Yeldon drops weight, he should get some speed back and be a more dynamic runner.
Yeldon is a smooth runner who has quickness, balance, cutting ability and vision. He runs a little upright as a result of his height, and that plays a role in his ball-security issues. Yeldon can improve on those issues at the next level.
In 2014, Yeldon averaged five yards per carry for 979 yards with 11 touchdowns. He had 15 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown, too. Yeldon had ball-security issues in 2013, and while he was better as a junior, those didn't go away completely.
8/27/14: The Crimson Tide program has been a factory for elite running backs that has sent a number of special backs to the NFL in recent years. Yeldon is the next model in line. In 2013, he averaged six yards per carry for 1,235 yards with 14 touchdowns. The sophomore chipped in 18 catches for 160 yards, too. After gaining weight follwoing 2012 for a bigger work load, Yeldon seemed to lose some of his burst and explosiveness. He also had some issues with fumbles.
Yeldon will have to earn his carries in 2014 as the Crimson Tide is loaded in the backfield. Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry finished 2013 in strong fashion, and there will be a competition to be the lead back.
As a freshman in 2012, Yeldon helped contribute to Alabama's National Championship and had an excellent debut season. He occasionally outshone starter Eddie Lacy, a second-round selection of Green Bay's in the 2013 NFL Draft. Yeldon received only 175 carries in 2012, but totaled 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 131 yards and a score. While Lacy was a large downhill runner, Yeldon had some explosiveness. He ripped off a number of big gains with mismatch speed.
Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama
Height: 6-5. Weight: 310. 40 Time: 5.52. Projected Round (2015): 2-3.
4/27/15: Kouandjio excelled as a run-blocker in 2014, and Alabama had a lot of success running behind him. His pass blocking was improved over 2013, but he still has room to get better in that area of his game for the next level. Kouandjio has the physical skill set to be a quality starter and play quickly in the NFL. He has quickness, athleticism and strength.
8/27/14: Kouandjio had some mixed outings in 2013, including the season opener against Virginia Tech. He got better on a weekly basis. Kouandjio had a good game against LSU, but didn't fare as well against Auburn or Oklahoma. The junior was burned for a lot of pass pressures and some sacks against the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl. He has to improve his pass protection and ability to handle speed rushers.
Kouandjio needs to improve as a senior in 2014, but he has the athletic skill set to be better. Koundjio has dealt with multiple knee surgeries but finally was healthy in 2013. Koundjio should stay at guard going forward rather than moving to tackle.
Austin Shepherd, OT, Alabama
Height: 6-4. Weight: 315. 40 Time: 5.39. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA.
4/27/15: Shepherd was a solid run-blocker in 2014. His pass protection needs to get better for the NFL, and he should maybe move inside to guard. Shepherd really struggled in the pass-blocking one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl. He didn't wow at the Combine either.
8/27/14: Shepherd took over at right tackle for Alabama in 2013 after D.J. Fluker left for the NFL. The Crimson Tide had success running behind him and Anthony Steen on the right side of the line. Shepherd had some inconsistent play in pass protection and that is the area he needs to improve in 2014. If he doesn't show progress as a senior that could cause teams to project him to guard in the NFL.
Jalston Fowler, FB, Alabama
Height: 5-11. Weight: 254. 40 Time: 4.94. Projected Round (2015): 4-6.
4/27/15: Sources say they expect Fowler to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler is the rare fullback prospect who is a powerful load as a lead blocker yet can run the football and be a receiving weapon out of the backfield. He blocked really well for Alabama's talented running backs in 2014. The senior also had 11 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, along with 12 carries for 69 yards.
Fowler looks to be worthy of a third-day pick with the potential to be a starting fullback and special teams contributor in the NFL. He had a good week at the Senior Bowl and showed that he's ready to compete immediately. While Fowler didn't run fast at the Combine, he looked athletic in the field drills as a runner and receiver.
Some teams are hoping Fowler goes under the radar and a targeting him in the middle of Day 3. He is a rare fullback who could go as high as the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
8/23/14 Fowler flashed at times in 2013, but looked rusty in the early going following 2012's knee injury. He played better as the season progressed. Fowler ran for 88 yards on 19 carries in 2013. He had seven receptions for 15 yards.
Fowler hurt his knee against Western Kentucky in Alabama's second game of 2012. The injury required surgery and took him out for the year.
The junior was an absolute force as a lead blocker for Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon in the 2012 season opener against Michigan. Fowler also carried the ball eight times for 67 yards versus the Wolverines. He had 56 carries for 385 yards and four touchdowns in 2011 as a sophomore.
Fowler looks like a starting fullback in the NFL and a special teams contributor.
Christion Jones, WR, Alabama
Height: 5-11. Weight: 187. Projected 40 Time: 4.45. Projected Round (2015): FA.
4/27/15: Jones hauled in 19 receptions for 264 yards and one touchdown during 2014. He averaged 8.4 yards per punt return and 25 yards per kick return as well. For the NFL, Jones is a backup receiver who will have to earn a roster spot as a returner. He did not participate in the Combine.
8/27/14: Jones had a coming-out party in the 2013 season opener against Virginia Tech. He did his best Devin Hester with a punt return (74 yards) and a kick return (93 yards) for a touchdown in the first half. The kick return was especially impressive as Jones spun off a tackle to break free down the sideline. In the third quarter, he streaked down the field and made an over-the-shoulder catch for a 38-yard touchdown. Jones doesn't receive a lot of targets in the passing game, but he has continued to produce as a returner.
Jones had 36 receptions for 349 yards with two touchdowns in 2013. He averaged 14.4 yards per punt return with 29.3 yards per kick return. Jones entered 2013 with 25 career receptions for 328 yards with four touchdowns. He had averaged 10.6 yards per punt return.
Brandon Ivory, DT, Alabama
Height: 6-4. Weight: 308. Projected 40 Time: 4.99. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA.
4/25/15: Ivory had 13 tackles in 2014. He's adequate at filling his gap, but he doesn't make many tackles or generate pass rush. Ivory didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: Like a lot of Alabama defensive linemen, Ivory rotates into the game, but he has been unable to establish himself as an every-down player. The junior totaled 24 tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss and zero sacks in 2013. He had 21 tackles with a fumble recovery the year before. Ivory should see the field more as a senior with Ed Stinson and Jeoffrey Pagan in the NFL. Ivory needs to show some pass-rush potential as a senior.