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Alabama’s Pro Day: Who’s under the Microscope?

After strong performances at the NFL combine, AJ McCarron, Kevin Norwood, CJ Mosley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and others have one more hurdle to jump before the NFL Draft. Alabama’s Pro Day will be on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. All eyes will be on these players as they look to impress NFL scouts one last time before deliberation.

For McCarron, he improved his draft stock at the combine. As of now, McCarron is projected to be a second-round pick. He was one of the few quarterbacks who participated in throwing at the combine. It really helped him because NFL scouts were able to witness his arm strength first hand. McCarron was very accurate on his passes and his decision making was crisp.

Though mobility isn’t his strong suit, McCarron should at least have someone clock him in the 40-yard dash again. He doesn’t need to be fast, but if he can improve on his 40-time, it would be a plus for him. The main thing McCarron must focus on at pro day is continue to be accurate with the football and make the right decisions.

It’s not too often that someone gets three rehearsals before the big show, but for Alabama, Kevin Norwood happens to be the guy. Before the senior bowl, Norwood was projected to be a late sixth-round pick. After the senior bowl and the NFL combine, Norwood’s stock has risen. He’s now projected as a third-round pick. After putting in 4.48 (4.39 unofficial time) in the 40-yard dash, there is no doubt that Norwood has elite speed.

He’s always had great hands and good leaping ability. With McCarron throwing to him at pro day, Norwood’s focus should be on running smooth routes, making crisp receptions and showing a quick burst to get downfield.

Despite not participating in the 40-yard dash and the bench press, CJ Mosley still made his presence felt at the combine. He did well in the 20-yard shuttle (4.40 seconds), vertical jump (35.0 inches) and broad jump (118.0 inches). Though Mosley possesses speed and instincts, NFL scouts will look to see does he have that pass rushing ability as a linebacker? He does have long arms and big hands. This helps him in stopping the run and playing the passing lanes.

Mosley’s focus in the combine will be how quickly he can shed blocks, shoot the gap and get to the ball. Currently, Mosley is projected to be either the eighth overall pick or late in the first-round of the draft.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix showed NFL scouts his versatility in the combine. He not only specializes in being a deep coverage safety, but he can also stick his nose in the run game and lay the wood on the ball carrier. Clinton-Dix’s numbers were great in the vertical jump (33.0 inches), broad jump (119.0 inches) and bench press (11 reps). Though his speed could’ve been faster in the 40-yard dash, a 4.52 is acceptable for a player his size.

At pro day, Clinton-Dix must show that he has great recovery speed. He needs to be able to dissect the plays coming to him and be fundamentally sound in his reactions. Despite playing a lot of zone coverage at Alabama, scouts will look to see can Clinton-Dix handle playing man-to-man? At times, Clinton-Dix has been known to be a little over aggressive. He can’t afford for that to happen at pro day. Like Mosley, Clinton-Dix is projected to be a first-round pick.

Adrian Hubbard surprised a lot of people at the combine. Weighing in a 6’6” 252 pounds, Hubbard shows much promise, but struggles with intensity. He showed passion at the combine when he was clocked at 4.69 in the 40-yard dash. He excelled in the vertical jump (38.5 inches) and the broad jump (117.0 inches).

Hubbard has to keep in mind that his intensity level must be up in every drill on pro day. Scouts are going to evaluate him on can he keep the same focus on each play. Hubbard has the potential to be an elite pass rusher at the next level; he just has to start unleashing it.

Kenny Bell will be the player who comes to pro day with a chip on his shoulder. He didn’t get a combine invite and fell on the short end of the stick in the regular season. Both aspects will factor in as motivation for Bell. Though he’s not the most physical receiver (6’1” 180 pounds), Bell still has breakaway speed. He does a good job of high pointing the ball in the air and he has great leaping ability. Bell struggled a bit with drops this past season.

He can’t afford that to happen at pro day. For Bell to have a shot at the NFL Draft, he must wow some scouts and curve some clipboards. Like Norwood, Bell will have McCarron throwing to him. He needs to run clean routes, make clutch receptions and get down field quickly.

The conversation of Cyrus Kouandjio being a first-round pick is over. Regardless of the conversation, Kouandjio still has a chance to salvage his stock as a second-round pick with a good pro day. At 6’6” 310 pounds, Kouandjio has all the makings of being a great offensive lineman in the NFL. With Dr. James Andrews stating that there’s no problem with Kouandjio’s knee, it shouldn’t be an issue to see him explode off the ball at pro day.

Against top competition, Kouandjio seemed a bit intimidated and was blown off the ball a lot. College speed and NFL speed is different. He has to be able to move off the ball quickly and block at the point of attack. On passing downs, Kouandijo must be able to move his feet to the outside and shield the defensive lineman away from the quarterback.

As for Jeoffrey Pagan and Ed Stinson, they are going to have to really jump off the page at pro day. In the regular season, both players assumed their roles well, but they just weren’t the must see players on the team. Both Pagan and Stinson will have to prove that they are NFL ready.

The same goes for Anthony Steen and Vinnie Sunseri. Though Steen doesn’t have as much hype as Kouandjio, he is still a veteran, blue-collar player. Steen understands blocking assignments and knows how to get the job done. Like Kouandjio, Steen will have to prove to scouts that he does have speed and he can block effectively.

Despite Sunseri doing well in the bench press at the combine, he has yet to run. He has the knowledge and instincts to take to the game, but is he ready to really test his knee? NFL scouts will look to see if Sunseri has gained speed since his rehab. He will have to display some quickness and recovery speed as well as playing the ball in the air. Right now, Sunseri is projected to be selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.

It doesn’t cease to amaze people that once again all eyes will be on Tuscaloosa, Ala. For these players, the mission is simple. They must do everything they can to help make raise their draft stock once more. The question is which ones will succeed and which ones will fail?

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