Alabama, LSU to showcase more talent Saturday

Alabama, LSU to showcase more talent Saturday

November 8th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sportscollege

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) runs against Virginia Tech in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (32) looks to the sideline.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Alabama and LSU have combined to produce 55 NFL draft picks the past four years, including 18 first-round selections.

Future professional stars will gather again Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, when the top-ranked Crimson Tide host No. 10 LSU. One NFL scouting director believes as many as 10 first-round draft picks will be competing inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, though Alabama tailback T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper will have to wait until the 2015 draft since they are just sophomores.

Alabama and LSU each had nine players selected in the 2013 draft, with the Crimson Tide producing three first-round picks and LSU two.

"LSU still has good players, but they're in that next group compared to Alabama right now," the scouting director said. "In last year's game, there were so many early first-round guys on both sides."

In his annual ranking of the top five NFL prospects in the Alabama-LSU game, the scouting director selected Crimson Tide left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio for a second consecutive year.

"I think he had an outstanding sophomore year after tearing his ACL as a freshman," the scout said. "He was in a veteran group last year with Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones, and I think he was the best of those people, and they were all good players. He's big, long and athletic. He's 325 pounds and is going to get even bigger. He's just a 20-year-old kid.

"He's going to be a longtime pro, because the game comes very easy to him because of his athleticism. He didn't start off well this year, but a lot of that was just the jelling of the offensive line. If you watch him now, he's playing at a much higher level. He's an easy top-10 pick."

The scout went with LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo as the second-best prospect in last year's matchup, and he was the sixth overall pick in April's draft. This year, the scout selected Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley as his second pick.

"As long as he stays healthy and avoids the injuries he's had in the past, like the hip, he's going to be a top-15 or a top-20 pick," the scout said. "He's a Luke Kuechly type of player, and Luke was a top 10 player out of Boston College. They are very similar in a lot of ways."

Rounding out the scout's top five prospects in this year's matchup are LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, Yeldon and Cooper. The scout believes Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will be late first- or early second-round picks, as will LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

The most intriguing prospect according to the scout is LSU sophomore defensive end Danielle Hunter.

"He is going to be such a good player next year, but right now it's just untapped athleticism," the scout said. "He's just not a finished product, so he's hard to evaluate, but I think he could wind up in that Mingo category."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.