Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome played collegiately at Alabama and is the best tight end in Crimson Tide history. He also is a Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and one of the most widely respected GMs in the NFL.
He laughed Wednesday during the Ravens' pre-draft news conference when asked if he had lost faith in Alabama players in the NFL.
But that might not necessarily be a laughing matter among some NFL executives. For all the success Alabama has had recently, some former Tide players that were early round picks in the NFL draft haven't necessarily panned out.
That led us to thinking: Are there schools we would be leery of when it came to drafting players at certain positions? And the flipside: Are there schools that seem to produce an inordinate amount of good players at certain positions?
We looked at drafts from this century (specifically at players at certain positions that were drafted in the fourth round or earlier) and came up with this list of schools that made us grimace and those that made us smile. Each of the schools has a highly touted player at a certain position this year.
Think twice before drafting a ...
This year: C.J. Mosley
Recent picks: Dont'a Hightower, 1st round, 2012; Nico Johnson, 4th round, 2013; Rolando McClain, 1st round, 2010; Saleem Rasheed, 3rd round, 2004; DeMeco Ryans, 1st round, 2006; Courtney Upshaw, 2nd round, 2012.
The buzz: Mosley will be the first inside linebacker to come off the board in this draft, but you wonder if the team that takes him will have some doubt. NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said not to worry during a media teleconference earlier this month: "I know there's been recent Alabama big linebackers that haven't played up to capabilities perhaps, but I don't think that C.J. Mosley is one of those guys. I really like him a bunch." Ryans has been a solid player, and NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah brought up Ryans when talking about Mosley recently: "I personally think he's a better player than DeMeco was coming out, and DeMeco has had a nice career." The jury remains out on Upshaw and Hightower, and McClain is out of the league ... again.
This year: G Cyril Richardson
The buzz: Smith and Watkins, in particular, were highly touted coming out of college, but neither has come close to living up to the hype. Smith, especially, has disappointed; he was taken second overall. Richardson had a lot of hype during the season, but he seems likely to be a third- or fourth-round selection.
This year: Marqise Lee
Recent picks: Keary Colbert, 2nd round, 2004; Dwayne Jarrett, 2nd round, 2007; Steve Smith, 2nd round, 2007; R. Jay Soward, 1st round, 2000; Patrick Turner, 3rd round, 2009; Damian Williams, 3rd round, 2010; Mike Williams, 1st round, 2005.
The buzz: Smith was on his way to a productive career before injuries derailed him, but the recent history of other USC receivers in the NFL is not good, to say the least. Mike Williams was a giant bust. Soward never should've been selected in the first round in the first place. Turner was a prime high-school recruit who never panned out in college or in the NFL. Jarrett was highly productive working with Matt Leinart; neither panned out in the NFL.
Feel comfortable picking a ...
Notre Dame TE
This year: Troy Niklas
The buzz: The Irish have produced a number of big, physical tight ends in recent years, and Niklas is the latest example. He might be the best dual-threat tight end (blocking and receiving) in this draft, and should be the fourth player at the position to come off the board.
South Carolina CB
This year: Victor Hampton
Recent picks: Fred Bennett, 4th round, 2007; Sheldon Brown, 2nd round, 2002; Chris Culliver, 3rd round, 2011; Stephon Gilmore, 1st round, 2012; Andre Goodman, 3rd round, 2002; Johnathan Joseph, 1st round, 2007; Dunta Robinson, 1st round, 2004.
The buzz: South Carolina has put a lot of corners in the NFL (the above list does not include Captain Munnerlyn, a seventh-round selection in 2009). Hampton's recent off-field issues cloud his draft status, but he has the talent to be a solid No. 3 corner in the NFL.
This year: Morgan Moses
The buzz: Moses is not seen as a first-round lock heading into the draft, but he very well could end up being picked late in the round. And the above list doesn't include Brad Butler, a fifth-round pick in 2006 who ended up starting 31 games in his four-year career for Buffalo.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.