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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Cyrus Kouandjio announce early draft entry

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan and linebacker Adrian Hubbard announced Thursday that they would enter the NFL draft, joining teammates Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Cyrus Kouandjio to make four underclassmen leaving the Crimson Tide, including three defensive starters.

Pagan's announcement, however, was something of a surprise. The junior defensive tackle said he received a third-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, and would have returned to Alabama had his projection been for the fourth round or lower.

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"I leaned a lot on an old high school coach of mine ... and my mom, they helped me make the right decision," Pagan said. "I felt like if I was going in the first three rounds, that would be a good way to get my foot in the door."

Pagan was a starter on the defensive line, but rotated heavily in a group that included one of the SEC's top freshmen in defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson. Still, Pagan managed 34 tackles and two sacks. He projects as either a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, or a tackle in a 4-3. Hubbard (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) made 31 tackles and three sacks as a junior this season. He projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at the next level, with a good frame and length for pass rushing and deflecting passes. He said he has been projected for rounds 2-4.

"I graduated with a business management degree in three and a half years. I'm proud of that," Hubbard said.

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that Clinton-Dix and Kouandjio would leave UA early for the draft. Both said Thursday that they received first-round draft grades from the advisory board, although Clinton-Dix was the steadier performer of the two in 2013. Both spoke about their decisions Thursday, with Kouandjio thanking everyone in the program from coach Nick Saban to training and academic staff.

"I think it's the best decision for me, my family and my future," Clinton-Dix said.

Alabama has produced 11 first-round draft picks over the last three years, and 13 in the last four. First-round possibilities from Alabama this year include linebacker C.J. Mosley, Kouandjio, Clinton-Dix, and perhaps quarterback AJ McCarron, if a team high on McCarron and in need of a quarterback has or trades into a pick late in the round. Most projections on McCarron, however, suggest he will go in the second or third round, according to Reese's Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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