During this Thursday's NFL draft 5 Alabama players may go in the first round. Trent Richardson should go early followed most likely by safety Mark Barron and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Later in the first round corner Dre Kirkpatrick should be picked as will outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. All five of these Alabama players should come into the league next year and produce results right away. The first round of this year's draft is Thursday at 8 pm ET.
Trent Richardson is a top 5 talent in this year's draft and arguably the best running back available since the 2008 draft when Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall and Darren McFadden all went in the first round. Richardson can bench press 475 pounds and has well above average NFL speed. Richardson reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones Drew and I think he will have a solid rookie campaign and should be owned in all fantasy formats.
Mark Barron is arguably the most NFL ready safety in the draft this year. He has solid ball skills and good closing speed to go along with a 6'2" 218 pound frame. Barron is a heavy hitter that doesn't shy away from contact. Barron will offer whoever drafts him great upside and if I had to compare him to an NFL safety it would have to be Brian Dawkins but whether or not he will have a great Dawkins-like career remains to be seen.
Dont'a Hightower is a massive inside linebacker that will come in and start for just about any NFL defense right now. He is 6'4" and 260 pounds and hits with authority. If I had to give you an ideal linebacker to compare him to today, I'd say Hightower is just as good as Sean Weatherspoon if not better.
Dre Kirkpatrick is an All Pro corner in the making. Kirkpatrick is very capable of one on one tackling which is somewhat of a commodity in the NFL today. Dre has shown the ability to be a lock down corner in college but whether or not that will transition into the NFL is questionable. Kirkpatrick will have high upside late in the first round this year. In my mind he is a younger version of Champ Bailey.
Courtney Upshaw reminds me of a slower Anthony Spencer (late first round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2007). He does have a few downfalls that I saw on film. He runs straight up and doesn't seem to be in a prime power position as he runs into tackles. His versatility is a plus, he is capable of playing as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or a defensive end in the 4-3 defense. I feel his lack of technique is the main reason why he will go late in the first round at best because he seems very raw to me. He does have monster upside if he works on his form and is in a system that plays to his advantage.