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Which team has better NFL talent, Alabama or Oregon?


It's still early in the season, but Alabama and Oregon appear destined to meet in the BCS Championship Game. If you were a general manager of an NFL expansion team and had the choice to take the starting 22 from either team -- each no doubt loaded with future NFL talent -- which one would allow you to be most competitive in Year 1 of your franchise?

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  • Daniel Jeremiah
  • Depth gives 'Bama the edge

Both of these rosters are deep with talent at the skill positions, but I would give the slight nod to Alabama because of its depth in the trenches. Alabama has several ready-made NFL players in its defensive front seven, led by DE Ed Stinson and LB C.J. Mosley. Also, AJ McCarron might lack Marcus Mariota's upside, but he's a more consistent passer at this point.

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Crimson Tide the obvious choice

It's not a tough choice deciding between the rosters of the Ducks and Crimson Tide. While Oregon pummels collegiate foes on a weekly basis, its roster features only a few NFL-caliber players -- primarily at the skill positions (quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback). On the other hand, Alabama trots out NFL-ready players at nearly every spot on both sides of the ball. From the massive size of their offensive and defensive linemen to the imposing stature of their wideouts and defensive backs, the Crimson Tide feature a lineup that rivals the size, speed and physical dimensions of each of the teams in the NFL. That doesn't necessarily mean Alabama would win in a "one-and-done" matchup over Oregon, but it makes it easy for me to pick Nick Saban's lineup if I'm starting a 33rd NFL franchise with one of the two rosters.

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  • Charles Davis
  • Most NFL execs would pick 'Bama

The answer truly depends on how you plan to operate your NFL team. Before Chip Kelly arrived as the head coach of the Eagles and wowed the league with his offense in the first two weeks of the season, Alabama's roster would have been the answer from most personnel people in the NFL. Why? Alabama plays the way most NFL teams do: with a pro-style offense with a strong running game, and an accurate quarterback who makes good decisions. Defensively, Alabama is strong across the front with run stoppers and pass rushers. The Crimson Tide is plenty stout and athletic in the back seven. Oregon has many of those attributes, but its style of play confounds talent evaluators because it does not make for an easy "apples to apples" comparison. Now that concerns about the style-of-play comparison are being eased by Kelly's offensive success in Philadelphia, I would say don't count out Oregon's starting 22, because its style is becoming more prevalent with each NFL game. In the final analysis, I would still choose the Alabama 22. They are more than athletic enough to adapt to any style of play (and are being coached to be flexible), whereas the Oregon athletes are a bit more specific to their schemes, both offensively and defensively. But that gap is shrinking.

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  • Matt "Money" Smith
  • Oregon not at Alabama's level

There's still a big gap between Oregon talent and NFL talent. While the Ducks have been putting players in the league at a more frequent rate since Mike Bellotti ceded control of the football program to Chip Kelly and now Mark Helfrich, it's still a school that recruits to its system. That's why you would be hard pressed to pass over the roster with C.J. Mosley, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the Kouandijo brothers. Not to mention T.J. Yeldon, who is showing signs of being special, and Amari Cooper, one of the most unheralded receivers in the nation. They'll work in any system. Sure, Marcus Mariota is intriguing at quarterback, and just like they did with Tavon Austin, NFL teams will fall in love with De'Anthony Thomas and his blazing speed. But when you're talking "All-22," it's Roll Tide!

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  • Chase Goodbread NFL Draft 365
  • Transition would be smoother for Crimson Tide players

Not too tough an answer here. Alabama is a line-of-scrimmage team in a line-of-scrimmage league, and that's where any hopes of competitiveness at the pro level would have to begin. Alabama's pro-style offensive system would make for an easier transition as well. A GM could do worse than starting a club with a potential franchise left tackle in Cyrus Kouandjio and a road grader of a guard in Anthony Steen. Not that Oregon is weak on the line of scrimmage, but the Ducks' offensive and defensive fronts don't get tested in the Pac-12 the way SEC lines do.

I would take Alabama. Oregon has a better secondary, a better quarterback and a better tight end (though Colt Lyerla's maturity level leaves a lot to be desired), but I think the Tide is stronger everywhere else. Alabama certainly is stronger up front on both sides of the ball. Alabama's linebackers are better suited for the NFL. Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon is a better fit for most NFL teams than Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas. And Alabama WR Amari Cooper is better than any Oregon wide receiver.

Oregon's versatile offensive personnel would give an NFL team the ability to alternate between the spread option and more traditional concepts effortlessly. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the best dual-threat talent to run the up-tempo offense Chip Kelly brought to the Ducks. But the biggest development is freshman tight end Johnny Mundt, whose breakout game against Tennessee (five receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns) provides another mismatch in the passing game. The only component Oregon is lacking at the moment is consistent running between the tackles, with sophomore Byron Marshall and true freshman Thomas Tyner still developing, but all-purpose threat De'Anthony Thomas, with his remarkable speed and acceleration, would salve those concerns by getting to the edge at will.

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