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Published: Dec. 27, 2016 at 01:07 p.m.
Updated: Dec. 27, 2016 at 01:48 p.m.

College Football Playoff preview: Top 10 Alabama prospects

In reviewing any Alabama game, scouts put their remote controls through their paces. Watching the Tide's offense means that every play includes at least four or five future pros from 'Bama. When the defense is on the field, nearly every player on that side of the ball has an NFL future. That means each snap must be re-watched over and over in order to appropriately evaluate the slew of next-level players wearing crimson and white.

Scouts are especially interested to see how pro prospects fare against elite competition -- so Alabama's playoff semifinal matchup against Washington on Saturday (Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN), will be replayed ad nauseam in league circles.

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  • Need a nickel back? Or an outside corner? Or maybe a safety due to the injury suffered by senior Eddie Jackson? No worries. Fitzpatrick's got you covered -- or at least he hopes to have Washington WRs John Ross and Dante Pettis covered in their playoff semifinal matchup. His versatility and ball skills (leads Alabama with five interceptions and 12 passes defensed) are impressive, as are his five defensive touchdowns in just two years. Even on a stacked defense like Nick Saban's, scouts have taken notice. 10

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    10. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S

    Need a nickel back? Or an outside corner? Or maybe a safety due to the injury suffered by senior Eddie Jackson? No worries. Fitzpatrick's got you covered -- or at least he hopes to have Washington WRs John Ross and Dante Pettis covered in their playoff semifinal matchup. His versatility and ball skills (leads Alabama with five interceptions and 12 passes defensed) are impressive, as are his five defensive touchdowns in just two years. Even on a stacked defense like Nick Saban's, scouts have taken notice.

  • It's hard not to think of former San Francisco 49ers safety Merton Hanks when you see Harrison run all over the field for the Tide. The rangy defender will pop ball carriers from the deep secondary when he's able to diagnose plays off the snap. The sophomore is an excellent last line of defense for Alabama. 9

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    9. Ronnie Harrison, S

    It's hard not to think of former San Francisco 49ers safety Merton Hanks when you see Harrison run all over the field for the Tide. The rangy defender will pop ball carriers from the deep secondary when he's able to diagnose plays off the snap. The sophomore is an excellent last line of defense for Alabama.

  • Howard, a senior, should become a safety valve for some lucky NFL quarterback, and he might even become a big-play target down the seam and in the red zone. Alabama will use him on quick screens against Washington's outside defenders due to his size and strength, but his best utilization in the NFL will be over the middle, where his height and strider's speed can be used on crossers and against zone coverage. Scouts will also be impressed if he's able to make good blocks against the Huskies' fierce linebackers in the run game. 8

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    8. O.J. Howard, TE

    Howard, a senior, should become a safety valve for some lucky NFL quarterback, and he might even become a big-play target down the seam and in the red zone. Alabama will use him on quick screens against Washington's outside defenders due to his size and strength, but his best utilization in the NFL will be over the middle, where his height and strider's speed can be used on crossers and against zone coverage. Scouts will also be impressed if he's able to make good blocks against the Huskies' fierce linebackers in the run game.

  • With ArDarius Stewart becoming quarterback Jalen Hurts' big-play receiver, Ridley's taken a bit of a backseat this season. Still, he leads the team in receptions and has scored seven times for an offense that doesn't really need to throw the ball that often. Ridley's extremely quick with or without the ball. His body control and ability to high-point passes downfield make him a potential difference-maker in the Antonio Brown-mold at the next level. 7

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    7. Calvin Ridley, WR

    With ArDarius Stewart becoming quarterback Jalen Hurts' big-play receiver, Ridley's taken a bit of a backseat this season. Still, he leads the team in receptions and has scored seven times for an offense that doesn't really need to throw the ball that often. Ridley's extremely quick with or without the ball. His body control and ability to high-point passes downfield make him a potential difference-maker in the Antonio Brown-mold at the next level.

  • The son of a former NFL running back, Humphrey plays with the physicality of a guy who was taught to be tough. At times he can be overaggressive in coverage, but it's easier to ramp that down with experience than start the fire in a defender. If he shows the mental toughness and agility to stay with Huskies star receivers John Ross and Dante Pettis, scouts will value the redshirt sophomore even more. 6

    Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire/Associated Press

    6. Marlon Humphrey, CB

    The son of a former NFL running back, Humphrey plays with the physicality of a guy who was taught to be tough. At times he can be overaggressive in coverage, but it's easier to ramp that down with experience than start the fire in a defender. If he shows the mental toughness and agility to stay with Huskies star receivers John Ross and Dante Pettis, scouts will value the redshirt sophomore even more.

  • Anderson is the glue of Alabama's defense. He's not as flashy as Tim Williams. He's not as highly touted as Jonathan Allen or Reuben Foster, but he's simply in the right place at the right time. It's not like he doesn't make plays (17 tackles for loss), but scouts appreciate the little things like coverage awareness and containment against the run, and Anderson does those things. He'll be among the favorites of NFL coaches when they get to review his tape this offseason. 5

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    5. Ryan Anderson, LB

    Anderson is the glue of Alabama's defense. He's not as flashy as Tim Williams. He's not as highly touted as Jonathan Allen or Reuben Foster, but he's simply in the right place at the right time. It's not like he doesn't make plays (17 tackles for loss), but scouts appreciate the little things like coverage awareness and containment against the run, and Anderson does those things. He'll be among the favorites of NFL coaches when they get to review his tape this offseason.

  • Williams is an intriguing prospect in terms of athleticism, and has proven time and again that he can overwhelm a tackle with his speed and agility to get to ball carriers in the backfield (15.5 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks, this season). But with Tide coaches rotating him out against the run on a regular basis, scouts are wondering if he's incapable of handling a full workload -- or if Saban is just taking full advantage of his supreme depth up front. If he shows a good all-around game against Washington, it could quell those concerns. 4

    Samantha Baker/Associated Press

    4. Tim Williams, LB

    Williams is an intriguing prospect in terms of athleticism, and has proven time and again that he can overwhelm a tackle with his speed and agility to get to ball carriers in the backfield (15.5 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks, this season). But with Tide coaches rotating him out against the run on a regular basis, scouts are wondering if he's incapable of handling a full workload -- or if Saban is just taking full advantage of his supreme depth up front. If he shows a good all-around game against Washington, it could quell those concerns.

  • I don't know if Robinson is the most nimble left tackle prospect I've seen, but he's certainly a brick wall in pass protection and absolutely nasty in the run game. Over the second half of the season, he improved vs. better pass rushers -- against Tennessee star Derek Barnett, Robinson lost a few early downs but then wore out Barnett as the game went on. The junior is also regularly used in front of screens to block smaller defenders in space. In short, he's a fun watch for anyone who enjoys line play. 3

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    3. Cam Robinson, OT

    I don't know if Robinson is the most nimble left tackle prospect I've seen, but he's certainly a brick wall in pass protection and absolutely nasty in the run game. Over the second half of the season, he improved vs. better pass rushers -- against Tennessee star Derek Barnett, Robinson lost a few early downs but then wore out Barnett as the game went on. The junior is also regularly used in front of screens to block smaller defenders in space. In short, he's a fun watch for anyone who enjoys line play.

  • Leading a defense like Alabama's in tackles is quite a feat considering the number of NFL prospects playing on that side of the ball. Foster lost weight coming into his senior year, and his speed to the ball greatly improved. He pops backs between the tackles, but he'll also attack the sidelines if the Huskies try running Myles Gaskin outside. Foster is an all-around talent with a great NFL future. 2

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    2. Reuben Foster, LB

    Leading a defense like Alabama's in tackles is quite a feat considering the number of NFL prospects playing on that side of the ball. Foster lost weight coming into his senior year, and his speed to the ball greatly improved. He pops backs between the tackles, but he'll also attack the sidelines if the Huskies try running Myles Gaskin outside. Foster is an all-around talent with a great NFL future.

  • The senior defensive lineman is the winner of the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards as the nation's top defender. While his numbers won't blow anyone away (13 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks), Allen's abilities transcend statistics. Scouts love his versatility to play inside and outside. He displays supreme hustle to the ball on every snap. His hands are as strong as any lineman's in the country, and he uses them to discard his opponents. Allen is a force that NFL teams would love to add to their defensive front. 1

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    1. Jonathan Allen, DE

    The senior defensive lineman is the winner of the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Awards as the nation's top defender. While his numbers won't blow anyone away (13 tackles for loss, including 8.5 sacks), Allen's abilities transcend statistics. Scouts love his versatility to play inside and outside. He displays supreme hustle to the ball on every snap. His hands are as strong as any lineman's in the country, and he uses them to discard his opponents. Allen is a force that NFL teams would love to add to their defensive front.