2012 NFL Draft gets first-round talent with Alabama juniors

As expected, Alabama three best juniors — middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Trent Richardson — are headed to the NFL following a national championship win.

Sources tell TideSports.com that the trio will announce their decision at a news conference later today.

Richardson immediately becomes the best running back in this year's draft and could get picked in the top 10. He's a strong runner with good speed on the second level.

This season, Richardson ran for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Richardson is also dangerous in the passing game, especially on wheel routes. This season he caught 29 passes for 338 yards and three more scores.

Kirkpatrick is also a legit top 10 talent. He's a big, physical corner and a sure tackler. Kirkpatrick is at his best when he can jam at the line of scrimmage and turn and run with receivers. If nothing else, his stats this season (zero interceptions, nine pass breakups) prove that teams chose to not throw in his direction this season.

Hightower should be a first-round pick as well after Notre Dame's Manti Te'o decided to return for his senior season. He's a plug and play rookie starter on the inside. His agility and athleticism is underrated, as evidenced by the plays where Alabama lines him up as a defensive end to pass rush.

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