Projected as the top corner for the upcoming draft, the decision to move on was an easy one for Milliner.
Profiling Alabama's three early NFL Draft entrants and what their departures mean for the Crimson Tide when looking ahead to the 2013 season.
CB Dee Milliner
Where he projects to go: cbssports.com ranks Milliner as the top corner for the 2013 NFL Draft and No. 7 prospect overall. Pre-workouts, Milliner is projected to go in the first 20 picks of April's draft.
What they're saying about him: "Built well for the position. Plays with excellent coordination and smooth hips, using his arms and hands to knock down throws. Excellent awareness and read/react ability, getting his head turned and uses his eyes well to quickly find the ball. Attacks the run and is a very good tackler, never backing down. Lacks elite speed and quick-twitch ability. Plays too aggressive at times and will take himself out of the play, missing some tackles. Has just one full season as a starter. Needs to refine some of his cover technique, most notably his backpedal." -- Dane Brugler, cbssports.com.
NFL Comparison: "Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman. Similar size and ballhawking ability when the ball is in the air." -- Brugler.
What Milliner's departure means for Alabama: UA returns three corners -- Deion Belue, Geno Smith and John Fulton -- who saw meaningful playing time in 2012, so there will be options from which to choose. The question is, which of the three will take his game to the elite level that Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kareem Jackson and Javy Arenas performed at in previous years? While Belue, who started every game for the 2012 national champions, would seem to be the most obvious choice, the feeling is that Smith might have more upside than any other returning corner on the roster. As for Fulton, he recently tweeted that he was undergoing surgery to repair on his foot to repair an injury sustained against Texas A&M so it remains to be seen what his status for spring drills will be. Now would also be a good time for a pair of rising redshirt sophomores -- Jabriel Washington and Bradley Sylve -- to make a move.
OT DJ Fluker
Where he projects to go: cbssports.com ranks Fluker as the No. 4 offensive tackle for the 2013 NFL Draft and No. 28 prospect overall. Pre-workouts, Fluker is projected to go in the first 40 picks of April's draft.
What they're saying about him: "Powerful run blocker. Fluker's combination of size and power make him a formidable prospect who should only get better. For a drive-blocking, power-based scheme, Fluker ranks as one of the top right tackle prospects in the country. At his size, Fluker is strictly a right tackle or perhaps even a guard prospect as he hasn't demonstrated the agility or balance necessary to handle NFL speed rushers on a consistent basis. Even as a run blocker -- his specialty -- Fluker has a tendency to drop his head and stop his feet as he makes contact, resulting in some of his more talented opponents being able to disengage." -- Rob Rang, cbssports.com.
NFL Comparison: "James Carpenter, Seahawks. Due to his massive size and upside, Fluker will often earn comparisons to former Alabama standout Andre Smith, who the Cincinnati Bengals made the No. 6 overall pick of the 2009 draft. In reality, a fairer comparison is to former teammate Carpenter, who also earned a first-round selection (No. 25) in 2011 by the Seattle Seahawks." -- Rang.
What Fluker's departure means for Alabama: Fluker's run blocking exploits have been well documented, but he also improved as a pass protector during his three seasons as a starter. Whether it is junior Austin Shepherd, who has seen action in 17 games for the Crimson Tide, or junior college transfer Leon Brown who steps into Fluker's size 22 shoes, there will be a dropoff at the position -- at least, initially.
RB Eddie Lacy
Where he projects to go: cbssports.com ranks Lacy as the No. 1 running back prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft and No. 43 prospect overall. Pre-workouts, Lacy is projected to go in the first two rounds of April's draft.
What they're saying about him: "He has the leg drive to push the pile and keeps his legs churning through contact, often resulting in broken tackles. Lacey reads his blocks nicely, showing enough lateral agility to avoid defenders as well as the burst to stick his foot in the ground and accelerate through gaps quickly. He's a well-built back but shows good balance (including a spin move) and athleticism (leaping ability) to surprise defenders anticipating that all he has is power. To fully capitalize on his opportunity, Lacy will need to stay healthy as he's been hampered at times with foot injuries (ankle sprains, turf toe) and put the ball on the ground a few times early in his career." -- Rob Rang, cbssports.com.
NFL Comparison: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks. Similar blend of size, speed, power and open field ability.
What Lacy's departure means for Alabama: Not many programs lose a 1,000-yard rusher and return a 1,000-yard rusher but that will be the case for the Crimson Tide when sophomore TJ Yeldon assumes the role of the No. 1 back in the UA offense in 2013. What we don't know is who will fill out the one-two punch that has become a staple of the Alabama rushing attack. Junior Jalston Fowler is coming off a knee injury that cost him most of the 2012 season and there's also Kenyan Drake, a rising sophomore who averaged 6.7 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns on just 42 carries in 2012, to consider, along with sophomore-to-be Dee Hart, who is looking to return from his second ACL injury in as many years at Alabama. Joining the mix this spring will be true freshman Derrick Henry, high school football's all-time leading rusher. And that's before you get to Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones, a pair of outstanding prospects who are expected to join the fold in the summer. In other words, the running back position should be fine.
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