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Who to watch for in the National Championship game.

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Where to start?

Rolando2ag6_medium

A great linebacker and also a damn fine mime.

Due to the large number of really good players in this game, I had to cut back on some analysis.  

Let's get this party started.

National Championship (8 PM EST ABC Musburger fools!)

Rolando McClain*: ILB Bama (6-4 256lbs.)

McClain is questionable for this game.  I would be very surprised if he missed the game, so I am throwing him in here.  If you haven't seen McClain yet this season, enjoy.  He was this seasons Butkus winner, Lambert winner and was ALL-SEC for the second straight season and added a SEC Defensive POY for good measure.  For the year he had 101 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4 sacks and 2 INTs.  Not too bad.

McClain is a hammer against the run game in the middle of the Tide's 3-4 defense.  He is a good blitzer and has shown a knack for timing snaps well.  He struggles in space though.  He is sometimes taken off the field in passing situations.  He needs to be more active in the passing game if he wants to jump into the top 10 of this draft.  I personally don't believe he has the speed to be a top tier LB at the next level.

My Player Comparison: DeMeco Ryans (I know it is weak picking a Bama product but if the shoe fits...)

Projected round: Top 15.  If he runs a good time (4.5 but I think he will be a high 4.6-4.7 guy) he could jump into the top 10 and be a target for the Browns.

Earl Thomas*: S Texas (5-10 197lbs.)

Thomas is not your Dad's safety.  He is very athletic.  If it wasn't for Berry and Haden, Thomas would be the first DB to be drafted.  At Texas he was asked to play center field and get from sideline to sideline.  (Think Mike Huff of the Raiders)  This is his strength.  He is not a guy you would feel great about walking up into the box and help stop the run.  It isn't for a lack of trying but I don't think his frame could hold up in a Bob Sanders type role.  Some scouts think that he would be better off as a CB, but I question that.  

He is just a redshirt sophomore but the buzz is building and he is so gifted athletically that he should be able to get a team to give him some sort of guarantee in the first.

My player comparison: Antrell Rolle

Expected round: Top 20

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Terrence Cody: NT Bama (6-5 360lbs. No freaking way)

Should have declared last season.  He is enormous.  Don't don't be confused.  He isn't Shaun Rogers.  His selling point is that by just being on the NFL field he has to be double teamed.  In Bama's 3-4 defense he is invaluable.  A complete monster against the run, practically invisible against the pass.  Almost a guaranteed two down player at the next level which is fine if you run a 3-4.  He struggles with his weight and conditioning and has trouble staying on the field on long drives.

Should be a first rounder because of his size but could drop because of his limited role.  Also very good at blocking kicks, just ask a Tennessee fan.

My player comparison: Ted Washington (Who else?)

Expected round: Late first, I fully expect the Pats to get him to replace Wilfork.

Sergio Kindle: DE-OLB Texas (6-4 254lbs.)

Freakish skills.  Took over for Brian Orakpo at the elephant position (standing DE, pretty much a 3-4 OLB) and had an awesome season.  His game is speed.  Has the speed to run with most WR let alone TE's and RB's.  Cuts off running angles with ease.  getting to the ball is not this kids issue, and when he gets there, he arrives with bad intentions.  

Tell me if you have heard this before.  He relies on speed to get to the quarterback.  He struggles in using his hands to disengage from Tackles and really doesn't have a second move to get to the QB.  If you cut off his speed he isn't strong enough in a spin move or bull rush to make a tackle pay.  Has all the tools but has yet to fully put them together.  Sounds like someone we know.

My player comparison: Anthony Spencer if he puts it all together.

Expected round: Mid first but expect him to rise, he will put up playstation numbers at the combine.

Colt McCoy: QB Texas (6-3 210lbs.)

Let's get it over with.  I like Colt.  He has been in big games.  He is crazy accurate.  His girlfriend is one of the hottest women I have ever seen.  Like stupid hot.  I know that his arm isn't the strongest in the world but he has a very quick release to help make up for that.  He moves very well for a QB his size and throws very well when he is on the run.  He shows great touch on his passes and never seems to panic when the pocket is collapsing.  

He, like most college QB's now, has had very little experience under center.  It will take some work, but his footwork outside of that is good enough that you wouldn't think that it would be too big of an issue.  McCoy didn't have as good of a season as was expected of him and he looked bad in his last game against Nebraska Ndamukong Suh.  But he has a chance Thursday night to show what he can do.  Saban is going to take the short stuff away from McCoy and force him to read the defense and go deeper than he likes.  If McCoy has a great game, he can really help himself out on draft day.

My player comparison: Marc Bulger with better wheels

Expected round: 2nd

Jordan Shipley: WR Texas (6-0 190lbs.)

Playing in his sixth season of college football.  Everyones favorite white WR.  He is also a great punt returner and kick returner.  He has decent top end speed.  Will not be a number 1 or even a number 2 in the NFL.  Could be a good slot guy.  If everything goes his way, he could be a Wes Welker type guy (I really didn't want to use another white dude because it just seemed way to easy, but Welker keeps coming up.)

My player comparison: Steve Breaston (HA! Black dude! No, it really is Wes Welker, and that is if everything goes his way)

Expected round: Late 2nd to Early 3rd.

Kareem Jackson*: CB Bama (5-11 192lbs.)

Three year starter as a junior.  Will be covering Shipley almost all night so that will be a good match-up to keep an eye on.  His stock has really taken off this season and him leaving early is now a real option.  He is very fast and ran a 4.42 when he got to Bama.  If he goes back to school for a senior season, he will probably be a first rounder in the '11 draft.

My player comparison: Haven't paid him enough attention to give a good comp.

Expected round: Probably 3rd to 4th, maybe late 2nd.

Javier Arenas: CB Bama (5-9 195lbs.)

Every time I watch an Alabama game, Arenas makes a big play.  I'm starting to really think that it isn't just my luck.  He is a ball hawk and always seems to be around the ball at good times.  Not to mention he is one of the best return men in all of CFB.  All SEC as a return man and CB.

On to the bad.  He is small, and he seems to bite on a lot of double moves from what I have seen.  That being said, I like the kid.  He is small and will get bullied by bigger WRs at the next level.  But he is one of those rare players that just seems to always make a play when his team needs it.  These kinds of guys drop in drafts because of their size or something else.  Sometimes you just need to draft a football player not a size chart.

My player comparison: Allen Rossum (I wanted to put Antoine Winfield but Arenas isn't close to the tackler that 'Toine is.)

Expected round: 4th to 5th.  I would do a funny little dance if we got this kid in the 5th.

Other players to keep an eye on:

Colin Peek TE Bama: Isn't the new type of TE.  Good blocker and a sneaky pass catcher.  

Roddrick Muckelroy ILB/OLB Texas: I didn't do more on him because he is playing out of position right now for Texas as an ILB because of injuries.  If the Browns stick with the 3-4 I doubt they will look at Muckelroy.

Sam Acho* DE Texas: Keep an eye on him could be a high draft pick next year if he keeps developing.

Mike Johnson G Bama: Johnson is a beast in the run game and is good enough in pass pro that it would be a nice gamble by the Browns to take him in the third or fourth round.

Brandon Deaderick DE Bama: I love guys that play the 3-4 DE in college.  Would be very excited to see Brandon as a Brown next season.  Doesn't jump off the screen but is solid all around and knows the position.  Very underrated to me.

Lamarr Houston DT Texas: Another big active body that the Browns could use in the trenches.