Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Alabama Analysis: Talent abloom at linebacker

When it comes to “documenting” the Alabama football team unit-by-unit, what becomes apparent in a rather short time is the amount of “nit- picking” that has to be done in order to comprise an honest and objective overview.

When the talent pool is so prolific, the only real concern, excluding the ever potent fear of injury, is turning raw talent into needed depth.

In respect to the 2013 Tide linebackers, securing a solid rotation and building the aforementioned depth within that rotation will be a vital component.

Prominent players

Trey DePriest
Denzel Devall
Xzavier Dickson
Adrian Hubbard
C.J. Mosley

Emerging talent

Ryan Anderson
Reuben Foster
Walker Jones
Dillon Lee
Anthony Orr
Tana Patrick
Reggie Ragland
The undisputed leader and “rock” of the group is inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Returning for his senior season, Mosley is the glue and the brains of the unit. Virtually every defensive snap, in some fashion, revolves around Mosley. When it comes to skill set, both mental and physical, Mosley's attributes are unmatched.

In respect to Mosley’s cohorts, expect Trey DePriest and Adrian Hubbard to see ample playing time, along with Denzel Devall and Xzavier Dickson.

The leader in both sacks and tackles for loss last season, look for Hubbard to play opposite Mosley at the outside linebacker position.

With regards to the aforementioned DePriest, Devall, and Dickson, each player has the size and strength to clog the middle when necessary, but also defend the pass and pressure the quarterback. All three players, especially 2012 starter DePriest, are the ideal figures to complement the talent(s) of Mosley.

As for depth, Ryan Anderson, Dillon Lee, Reggie Ragland, and Tana Patrick will all vie for time in the rotation this season. Lee being utilized in the nickel defense is certainly an option.

When it comes to the “youth movement,” the linebackers, at least under Nick Saban’s tenure, have been a virtual "fruit basket" of talent.

Highly touted inside linebacker Reuben Foster (true freshman) could see a respectable amount of playing time, and potentially substantial playing time, depending on how the cards fall as the season progresses.
While the running backs and receivers have garnered the bulk of preseason praise, the Crimson Tide linebackers, from top-to-bottom, are quite possibly the best in the country.

If Nick Saban is hoisting yet another crystal trophy in early January, the consistent play of the linebackers will be part of the Tide's triumphant story.

Unit rating: 9.5/10

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