Talkin’ ‘Bout ‘Bama

by Tommy Lawlor   –

I watched some Alabama tape. The Crimson Tide has more than a little talent coming back this year. I don’t think Tide fans need to worry about the team falling on hard times any time soon.

It all starts with RB Mark Ingram. I’m not a big believer in taking RBs in the 1st round. Ingram is the kind of guy I would take that high. I see him as a Top 10 player. Ingram is a workhorse runner, the kind of guy you can build an offense around. In 2 years he’s run for 2,386 yards and 29 TDs. Ingram isn’t special athletically, but he is the real deal as a RB. Great vision, instincts. Good body control. Runs with natural power. Some guys have to lower their shoulders to take on defenders. Ingram runs hard and some tacklers just seem to bounce off him. He’s fast enough to deliver big plays when he does get into space. Ingram is effective in the passing game. He caught 32 passes last year (3 TDs). Most of them were screens, but he has pretty good hands. His blocking is okay. Ingram will aggressively engage rushers. He needs more practice to get good at it. Alabama used Roy Upchurch as their primary pass blocking RB last year.

WR Julio Jones is an elite prospect. He’ll go very high. He has good size (lists at 6’4, 210). Jones can make spectacular catches. I like the fact he’s such a strong, tough receiver. Put on the Arkansas game. There is one play when Julio catches a pass on the left side. Defender after defender swarms to the ball. Only when the 9th or 10th guy gets there does Jones go down. Impressive. Julio runs good routes and plays in a pro style offense. NFL teams will like that. CBs who play up on him are in trouble because Jones is able to out-muscle them and get behind ’em. CBs who play off are in trouble because he can eat up the cushion and run by them. Julio’s numbers last year were hardly special (43-596-4), but that has more to do with the Tide’s offense than his ability.

LT James Carpenter is back for a 2nd year at that spot. He’s 6’5, 300. He had a solid year in ’09, but definitely has room to improve. I want to see his pass protection skills this year. Last season James was up and down as a pass blocker. He doesn’t have great feet. He’s technically sound, but that won’t get the job done against athletic SEC edge rushers. If Carpenter doesn’t show much improvement, he’ll probably project to G in the NFL. James is a good run blocker. He fires off the ball. He gets into defenders and works hard to sustain his blocks. He has good strength and power.

Safety Mark Barron is a very good defensive player. He’s only a Junior this year, but is a player to watch. Last season Barron (6’2, 210) had 7 INTs. He also had 43 solo stops, 11 PBUs, and 3.5 TFLs. Barron is a wrap-up tackler. He hits with power, but isn’t a lights out guy. He runs well and covers a lot of ground. He shows man cover skills as well as the ability to play centerfield. The 7 picks tells you he has pretty good ball skills.

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