Posted by Michael David Smith on January 12, 2012, 2:41 PM EST
Two of the most talented players on this year’s national championship team have decided to leave the NCAA behind and enter the NFL draft.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick both said they’re turning pro at a press conference on the Alabama campus today. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he’s “100 percent supportive of both of these young men.”
Both Richardson and Kirkpatrick have a good chance of being Top 10 overall picks. Richardson is universally regarded as the most talented running back in the draft, and Kirkpatrick will battle LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who also announced today that he’s turning pro, for the title of best cornerback in the draft.“To leave a legacy like we have, me and Dre have left here, to have two national championships in three years, I think that’s pretty big,” Richardson said.
And now Richardson and Kirkpatrick will have a pretty big impact on the NFL draft. Last year Alabama had four first-round picks: Buffalo took Marcell Dareusthird overall, Atlanta took Julio Jones sixth, Seattle took James Carpenter25th and New Orleans took Mark Ingram 28th. This year, with Richardson, Kirkpatrick, senior safety Mark Barron and senior linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Alabama is likely to have four first-round picks again.