There is an outstanding analysis by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in which five different scouts discuss pros and cons regarding this year's prospects. It covers 50 of the top prospects and provides quotes from talent scouts who don't always have the same point of view.
It really is a thorough piece and has assessments of other SEC prospects as well, so it’s worth clicking and reading the whole thing.
Here’s what the scouts had to say about the top Alabama prospects—five guys who could all go on the first night.. Some of this you will agree with. Some of it will leave you scratching your head. All of it should spark discussion.
Trent Richardson*, RB, Alabama: 5-11, 225. Backed up Mark Ingram for two seasons before exploding for 1,679 yards (5.9) and 21 TDs in 2011. "Two years ago when Ingram won the Heisman, people at Alabama laughed behind the scenes saying, 'Ingram isn't even the best player in his own backfield,' " one scout said. "And Ingram is a nice player. But Richardson is big-time. He is probably the most complete player in this draft. Every superlative that you could put on him he's got." Regarded as a mature person and a tremendous worker. "He immediately changes your team," another scout said. "From whatever it is to a tough team. Because he's a tough guy. He's the total package. Pass protects. Everything."
Dre Kirkpatrick*, CB, Alabama: 6-2½, 190. Another two-year starter with three interceptions. "He's the toughest of all the corners coming out this year," one scout said. "Looks like he can run." Was arrested for marijuana possession in January, but the charge was dropped. "He's going to (expletive) you off because he's such a freelancer," another scout said. "That's kind of his persona. To do that you'd better be Deion Sanders. Claiborne's upside isn't as big as Kirkpatrick's. Claiborne is more well-rounded."
[note: Both of these guys are slam dunk first rounders and could be gone in the first 10-15 picks]
Dont'a Hightower*, ILB-OLB, Alabama: 6-2, 265. Played ILB in the Crimson Tide's base 3-4 but often put his hand down and rushed on passing downs. "Does he flash big-time plays?" one scout said. "Yeah, he does. Does he dominate like a guy 6-3, 265 should? Not on a consistent basis." Blew out his knee in Game 4 of 2009 and, according to some scouts, has yet to play back to his old form. "He's got the ability of the guy the Raiders took (Rolando McClain)," another scout said. "Some people don't know how tough he is. The knock on him is if he really inserts. But he is strong. I've seen him take his hand and just stand up guards." He tried to power rush tackles and ended up with five sacks. "He's capable of playing outside (linebacker)," a third scout said. "He can do anything you ask him to do."
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: 6-1½, 272. Projects as an OLB in a 3-4 or a strong-side LB in a 4-3. "The only reason Upshaw could go ahead of Ingram is because Upshaw actually played up and down and Ingram played all over the place," one scout said. "I don't think Upshaw was really outstanding in the Senior Bowl. I thought he was just ordinary. He's very physical, but he gets cut a lot. That's because he's stiff." Two-year starter with 16½ sacks. "(People) think he's Cornelius Bennett and he's not," another scout said. "He's a good, tough, nasty college football player that I think will get blocked a lot in the NFL." Scored just 9 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. "He's just a tough (expletive)," a third scout said. "He's really not a burn the edge guy. He is not fast. He's built like a fire hydrant. Maybe a 3-4 team will take him in the first."
Mark Barron, S, Alabama: 6-1½, 223. Three-year starter. "He's a plug-in and play starting safety from Day One," one scout said. "Of all the Alabama guys, Trent Richardson and Mark Barron are the two most dependable guys. You know what you're getting. There is no question about it. He can play deep safety and down in the box as a dime cover guy on the tight end or back out of the backfield. He's a good blitzer and good in run support." Finished with 12 interceptions. "For a big, tall guy he can break down," another scout said. "He's not Troy Polamalu. There's 25 guys in this draft better than Barron."
Again, go read the whole thing. There are interesting analyses of Morris Claiborne, Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram and other top SEC prospects.