Alma Ata Orange: 2015 Draft Prospect Preview

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Aug 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Jordan Thompson (10) is hit by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) as he tries to catch a pass in the fourth quarter of the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

A House Divided – Alabama & Auburn

Suggesting that the Crimson Tide is going to produce NFL caliber players is not exactly breaking news, but their talent pool this season is front loaded with a very sharp drop off past their projected first and second rounders.  Wide receiver Amari Cooper will likely be gone in the top five, and T.J. Yeldon may be the first running back off the board in the first round since Trent Richardson (also from Alabama) in 2012.  Of greater interest to the Bengals will be safety Landon Collins.  Stretches of last season may have seen Collins ranked ahead of C.J. Mosely as Alabama’s best defensive weapon, and with Hasean Clinton-Dix now playing in the NFL, Collins can be expected to move out of his loading-the-box role and into more traditional free safety duty.  If his numbers translate into his upcoming junior year (Collins had 70 tackles with four tackles for a loss, 6 deflections, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles in 2013), Collins’s versatility could vault him into a top prospect next year as well as a perfect fit into the Bengals’ defense.

Past those three, Alabama is not fielding much next year into the NFL besides linebacker Denzel Devall (if he declares) and maybe defensive tackles Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake in late rounds.  Auburn on the other had has a few players for consideration.

Wide receiver Sammie Coats may be their best prospect, but he also may be better served by staying at school another year.  Racking up more than 900 yards last season, Coats has NFL speed and play-making ability, but how much Auburn’s run game has affected Coates ability to get open has some scouts unconvinced.  As quarterback Nick Marshall gets better, Coats should improve, but nothing is certain.  Speaking of Auburn’s rushing attack, it starts with center Reese Dismukes.  A powerful run blocker, Dismukes might become a consideration if the “Russell Bodine Project” falls flat in a hurry.  Still, it is not like the Bengals to give up on a player they moved up in the Draft for after only a single season.

Finally, running back Corey Grant will replace Heisman finalist Tre Mason this year.  While coaches and scouts would like to see more production from him as a downhill runner rather than a bounce-to-the-perimeter speedster, Grant could become a surprise halfback on the rise.