Two-time first-team All-American selection (2012-2013). 2013: Butkus Award winner (nation's top linebacker) and Bednarik Award (nation's top defensive player) finalist. First-team All-SEC pick after starting in all 13 games. 2012: Butkus Award finalist and semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. First-team All-SEC pick after playing in all 14 games and making nine starts. Had eight tackles, including a tackle for loss, in BCS National Championship win over Notre Dame. 2011: Played in 11 games with six starts. Did not play against Florida and Vanderbilt after dislocating his elbow against Arkansas. Made a tackle and had an interception in BCS National Championship win over LSU. 2010: Was a freshman All-SEC pick after playing in all 13 games as a true freshman, making three starts. Finished third on the team with 67 tackles. High School: Parade and U.S. Army All-American pick.
Exceptional instincts -- triggers fast downhill. Outstanding urgency. Plays with very good knee bend, balance and base. Secure, drive-through tackler. Hits with explosion and jars ball carriers on impact. Excellent lateral agility -- flows fast and ranges to the sideline. Exceptional weight-room worker with good functional play strength -- plays bigger than his size. Outstanding eyes and anticipation vs. the run. Very good coverage awareness with the ball in front of him -- clings to tight ends passing through zones and blankets speed backs in man coverage. Respected leadership presence -- lines up his teammates and directs traffic. Film junkie. Excellent attitude, effort, field intensity and overall energy. Exceptional football and personal character. Highly competitive. Humble, selfless team player. Outstanding football IQ. Scheme-diverse and versatile. Strong special-teams coverage performer.
Has a narrow build. Has been slowed by elbow, hip and shoulder injuries throughout his career and long-term durability will require thorough inspection by medical examiners. Gets hung up on the blitz (shoulder stiffness) and must learn how to use more finesse picking a side instead of relying on bull power and striking blockers down the middle. Can learn to do a better job shooting his hands to shock defenders and disengage from blocks. Could be challenged matching up down the field with his back to the ball vs. flex TEs in the slot (man coverage). Could stand to become a more vocal leader.
Round 1 (top 15)
Smart, instinctive, fast-flowing, every-down linebacker capable of manning any position in a "40" front or steering a defense from the weak side in a "30" front, where he starred for a national-championship defense as a junior and carried the Tide as a senior. Has the football temperament, desire and work habits to emerge as a tackling machine in the pros. Has Pro Bowl potential.