10 Alabama Prospects To Watch

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There's no hiding it.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has an affinity for Alabama prospects.

Newsome is an Alabama alumnus himself who keeps a close eye on his former team. He has a close relationship with Roll Tide Head Coach Nick Saban. Newsome likes the way Saban runs the program, the kind of players he recruits and molds, and the kind of hard-nosed system he runs.

Simply put, a lot of prospects coming out of Alabama, "Play like a Raven."

The Ravens have drafted an Alabama player with their top pick two of the past three years. 

They took linebacker C.J. Mosley with the 17th-overall pick last year and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw with the 35th-overall selection (second round) in 2012. Baltimore also took defensive tackle Terrence Cody with a second-round pick in 2010.

Other former Alabama picks include fullback Le'Ron McClain (2007, fourth round), linebacker Jarret Johnson (2003, fourth round), tight end Terry Jones (2002, fifth round) and safety Ralph Staten (1997, seventh round).

The Ravens have drafted more players from Alabama (seven) than any other school. Miami is the closest with six.

Here's a look at this year's Alabama draft prospects, just in case Newsome scratches the itch again:

WR Amari CooperJunior; 6-foot-1, 210 pounds 2014 Stats: 124 receptions, 1,727 yards, 16 touchdowns
*
Projected Round:
1st
Cooper is generally regarded as the best wide receiver in this year's strong class. There's some debate on whether he could be behind West Virginia's Kevin White. Either way, he'll be gone before the Ravens are on the clock. Cooper is a superb route runner, extremely hard worker and big playmaker.

SS Landon CollinsJunior; 6-foot-0, 222 pounds 2014 Stats: 103 tackles, 3 interceptions, 7 passes defensed
*
Projected Round:
1st
Collins is mostly an in-the-box safety who is a strong and aggressive tackler. He's very good at reading and reacting in the run game, attacking downhill. He's light on his feet with fluid hips to change direction quickly, and has shown improvement in his coverage. He's the unquestioned top safety in the draft.

RB T.J. Yeldon
Junior; 6-foot-2, 221 pounds
2014 Stats: 194 carries, 979 yards, 11 touchdowns; 15 receptions, 180 yards, 1 touchdown
Projected Round: 3rd
Yeldon has a taller, leaner build than some of his Alabama running back predecessors, such as Eddie Lacy and Melvin Ingram. He still has a similar physical running style, however. Yeldon has impressive athleticism, using lateral cuts to make defenders miss. He had some fumble problems.

OG Arie Kouandjio
Senior; 6-foot-5, 310 pounds
Projected Round: 3rd
He is the older brother of Cyrus Kouandjio, a second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills last year. Arie certainly looks the part of a mauling interior lineman, but has had multiple knee surgeries, casting doubt on his long-term future. He's physically imposing in the run game and uses his long arms to ward off pass rushers. If teams are willing to gamble on his health, he could be a steal.

OT Austin Shepherd
Senior, 6-foot-4, 315 pounds
Projected Round: 4th-5th
Shepherd was a two-year starter at right tackle. Athletically, it may be better for him to move inside to guard, where he played during the Senior Bowl. Shepherd has consistent upper and lower body technique and a strong work ethic. He has excellent awareness to recognize blitzes.

FB Jalston Fowler
Senior; 6-foot-0, 254 pounds
2014 Stats: 12 rushes, 69 yards; 11 receptions, 129 yards, 2 touchdowns
Projected Round: 5th
Fowler signed with Alabama as a running back, but was converted to more of a traditional fullback last season. He's a bruising hitter who also brings a lot in the passing game. Five of his seven receptions in 2013 went for touchdowns. The Ravens already have a similar player in fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

OLB Xzavier Dickson
Senior; 6-foot-3, 268 pounds
2014 Stats: 42 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 2 passes defensed
Projected Round: 5th
Dickson broke out during his senior year, becoming the Tide's best pass rusher. His exact position is a little in flux, as his speed may make him more of a defensive end. He was frequently substituted and changed sides to get favorable matchups. Dickson was suspended from the 2013-2014 Sugar Bowl for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

ILB Trey DePriest
Senior; 6-foot-3, 250 pounds
2014 Stats: 88 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
Projected Round: 7th-free agent
DePriest took over for Mosley after he was drafted by the Ravens. He's a true 3-4 inside linebacker who is best when attacking the line of scrimmage and taking down running backs with big hits. His coverage is not his strong suit as he has average speed and agility.

FS Nick Perry
Senior; 6-foot-1, 211 pounds
2014 Stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 passes defensed
Projected Round: 7th-free agent
Perry saw minimal action over his career because he was behind future NFL draft picks Mark Barron, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri. He impressed in his first full-time action as a redshirt senior, showing a strong understanding of Alabama's pro-style defense and bringing a physical presence.

QB Blake Sims
Senior; 6-foot-0, 208 pounds
2014 Stats: 64.5 completion percentage, 3,487 yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Projected Round: 7th-free agent
Sims has poise. He made a lot of big plays in critical spots. He's shown accuracy on deep and intermediate passes, along with the arm strength to push the ball to the sideline. He only has a dozen starts under his belt, but there's potential.

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