Trent Richardson, junior RB: He’ll be a 1st or 2nd round pick whenever he comes out. Benches 475 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. He’s 5-11, 220. So far this year: 50 carries, 315 yards, eight TDs.
Dont’a Hightower redshirt junior LB: 1st round lock in 2012. Probably even goes in the Top 10. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, he’s not quite in the Ray Lewis mold, but he’s close. Leads the team with 4.5 tackles for losses. Tied with Mark Barron for most tackles on the team with 16.
Dre Kirkpatrick, junior CB: Considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country and his ability is why Alabama can blitz the shit out of opposing teams. At 6-foot-2, 190, he’s a first round lock if he comes out. Has forced two fumbles in three games. Keep on eye on his matchup with Arkansas star WR Joe Adams.
Mark Barron, senior safety: Two year starter at safety should be an All-American. At 6-2, 215 he’s a punishing hitter and is tied for the team lead in tackles with 16.
Courtney Upshaw, senior LB/DE: 6-foot-2, 265 and rivals Hightower for the top individual player on the defense. I like Alabama to win and cover, but the Tide does have Florida up next week, and Arkansas, because of an explosive offense, cannot be overlooked.
Joe Adams, senior, WR: Only 5-foot-11, 190, but can fly. The question will be whether he’s a system guy or can fit into an NFL offense as a No. 2 threat. Kind of reminds me of Golden Tate as a receiver, except he’s faster (4.38 40). I can see him as a 3rd-4th round pick. Has 15 catches for 198 yards this year. His teammate, Greg Childs, is a better prospect, but is coming off an injury and is expected to play his first game of the year today.
Cobi Hamilton, junior WR: Childs and Adams get most of the publicity, but Hamilton (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) leads the team in receiving so far this year and is a rising star. He’s averaging 19 yards per catch this year (13 catches, 252 yards).
Tyler Wilson, redshirt junior QB: On the road against arguably the best defense in the country is a tall order for Wilson, who is going to get battered (already been sacked seven times; he’s got three new offensive lineman this year). Wilson is tough – 6-foot-3, 220 – and has great weapons at WR, but the loss of RB Knile Davis will make this task insurmountable. I wouldn’t be too harsh a judge on Wilson’s NFL prospects based on this game. He’s going to get drafted in 2013.
Morris Claiborne, junior, CB: One outlet has Claiborne as the 4th best player in the SEC. A dangerous returner and cover man, he’s also blazing fast. A converted receiver, Claiborne probably is a 1st or 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft. He’s got two interceptions this year, and will likely cover WVU’s top receiver, Tavon Austin (20 catches, 236 yards).
Rueben Randle, junior WR: Leads the team with 19 yards per catch, and also has two scores. Definitely Jarrett Lee’s top target. If he were a little faster, I’ll liken him to a young Plaxico Burress.
Barkevious Mingo, redshirt sophomore DE: At 6-foot-5, 240-pounds, one of the best young and fast defensive ends in the country. He’ll terrorize Geno Smith all night. Mingo has three tackles for losses and a forced fumble through three games. He had an explosive game against Oregon.
Tyrann Mathieu, sophomore DB: Game-breaking DB who leads the team in tackles (24), has three tackles for losses, and is a ball hawk. He’s a big part of the reason LSU opponents are only completing 18 percent (!) of their passes. Mathieu is only a sophomore, but has the makings of a 1st/2nd round pick in 2013 or 2014.
Julian Miller, redshirt senior, DE: The second best pass-rusher on the Mountaineers could use a big game in the National spotlight to bolster his mid-round draft projection in 2012. He’s 6-3, 270 and perhaps the best senior defensive end in the Big East.
Bruce Irvin, senior DE: The team’s best defensive player leads the Mountaineers in tackles for losses (three) and has a sack. At 6-3, 245, he may project as a linebacker in the NFL, maybe in a 3-4 scheme. Irvin had 14 sacks last year and is a former high school dropout. He could be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick next April.