DALLAS - Nick Saban always seems to have Alabama in contention for a national championship. Year in and year out, the Crimson Tide are one of the few teams sitting atop college football.
No matter who is quarterbacking them, Alabama finds success due in large part to their defense. From the defensive line to the defensive backs, Saban takes pride in shutting other teams down.
Although the Crimson Tide fell short to Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers in the national championship game, Alabama sported the second best defense in the FBS last year. Behind only Michigan, the Crimson Tide allowed just 20 offensive touchdowns and gave up only 3.99 yards per play.
Defensive back Marlon Humphrey was a big reason why.
During his 2015 freshman season, Humphrey started all 15 games and recorded 45 tackles, three interceptions and eight pass breakups. Humphrey also earned freshman All-SEC honors and, oh yeah, hoisted the national championship trophy.
In 2016, Humphrey did not necessarily dazzle. While he only intercepted two passes and recorded five pass breakups, Humphrey saw a dip in production because other teams did not want to throw his direction.
When they did, things like this usually happened.
At 6’0, 197 pounds, Humphrey has a stout frame and is capable of being the go-to defensive back in nearly any defense in the NFL. He can line up across virtually any wide receiver, and is not restricted to just coverage.
Humphrey is adept at blowing up plays before they begin, fighting through blocks to punish teams that throw screens and out-routes.
When he’s not delivering hit-stick caliber tackles, Humphrey is blanketing receivers. At Alabama, Humphrey learned several coverage schemes and is comfortable playing man, zone and matchup zone. He is an extremely disciplined player and does not often gamble on jumping routes.
Humphrey has a quick first step and great closing speed that allows him to recover when he does get beat. His strength allows him to re-direct receivers out of bounds and re-route them into the heart of coverage.
While Humphrey is physically imposing and disciplined in coverage, his footwork is lacking. At times, skilled route runners can get around him. Humphrey is also prone to the pump fake, and must keep his head on a swivel.
If he overcomes his footwork and doesn’t bite on so many fakes, Humphrey has all the intangibles to be successful at the NFL level. With a resume that includes national championship winner at Alabama, the question now becomes what team snags him in the first round?
Hoping the Cowboys take a DB like Marlon Humphrey? Share your draft thoughts with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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