|Nelson Chenault / USA TODAY Sports|
|Adrian Hubbard came on strong at the end of last season but could improve his consistency.|
This is the fifth of a position-by-position look at the best tandems of NFL prospects in the SEC this season. We tried to veer away from superstars and their sidekicks, instead looking to highlight truly strong pairs where the headliner and the supporting role are harder to distinguish, and where a pro career is most promising for both. High-level production last season was a must.
Linebackers: Alabama's C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard
Mosley is the most experienced defender Alabama has, having been at least a part-time starter ever since his freshman year in 2010. He's regarded by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah as the nation's No. 5 college player. Mosley brings the Crimson Tide something that's even tougher to find in a linebacker than pass-rushing skills: pass-coverage skills. A perfect fit for Alabama's nickel defense against spread attacks, Mosley can cover the flats like a safety and makes tough open-field tackles look easy. He recognizes screen passes as quickly as any defender in the league. This season, he'll play full-time, including the short-yardage run situations that Nico Johnson handled the last three years for UA. Look for Mosley (6-foot-2, 232) to make a serious run at the Butkus Award this season and be a prized NFL draft pick next April.
Hubbard in many ways is the opposite of Mosley -- a tall, rangy linebacker whose pass-rush skills will ultimately determine his pro future. While Mosley's game tape will go a long way toward solidifying his draft status, Hubbard may be more the type to vault himself in the draft the other way -- by turning heads at the NFL Scouting Combine. He measures 6-6, 252 pounds and can post as low a 40-yard-dash time as any linebacker on the UA roster. In yet another contrast to Mosley, the areas he could most stand to improve are open-field tackling and play recognition. He ranks No. 43 in Jeremiah's Talented Top 50. As a third-year sophomore last season, Hubbard led the Crimson Tide in sacks (seven), tackles for loss (11) and forced fumbles (three). He came on especially strong at the end of the season, delivering a sack in each of Alabama's last three games against Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame. If he hopes to have the kind of year he would need to make an early NFL jump, he'll need to be more consistent throughout the season.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.