Posted by Tom Fornelli
if Alabama plans on defending its national championship, it'll have to do so without two of its most talented players from the 2011 team. It was announced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that running back Trent Richardson and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick were all leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.
While both players are great, Trent Richardson is the biggest household name, as he went to New York this season as a Heisman finalist. Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Tide in 2011 and finishes his Alabama career with 3,860 total yards and 42 total touchdowns. Richardson is ranked as the top running back in the 2012 draft class by CBSSports.com, and is projected to go in the first five picks of the draft.
As for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, he's not exactly a slouch. Kirkpatrick had 29 tackles and broke up 9 passes this season while also forcing 2 fumbles. He did not have an interception in 2011, but that's because opposing quarterbacks tested him as little as possible. CBSSports.com has Kirkpatrick ranked as the second best cornerback prospect in the 2012 draft, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne. He's expected to go within the first ten picks of our mock draft.
So if it wasn't already clear, this is a lot of talent leaving Tuscaloosa early, and it doesn't even include the seniors like Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron that are graduating. Of course, this is where we point out that Alabama had four players drafted in the first round of last year's NFL Draft, and that loss of talent didn't stop the Crimson Tide from winning a national title this season.
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