Some college football pundits suggest the Cincinnati Bearcats match up well with the Alabama Football roster. That argument can be made on the basis of Cincinnati having at least seven guys who will be drafted. There are many Power Five teams that cannot match that during an NFL Draft.
On offense, quarterback Desmond Ridder,(former Alabama) running back Jerome Ford and wide receiver Alec Pierce are solid Draft prospects. From the Bearcats’ secondary, Ahmad Gardner, Coby Bryant and Bryant Cook will be drafted. Gardner and Bryant are possible first or second-round picks. At linebacker, both Darrian Beavers and Joel Dublanko can be future pros. Edge rusher Myjai Sanders will likely be drafted in the second or third round.
There is no debate about the NFL Draft potential on the Cincinnatti roster. But a closer look at the roster reveals a serious Bearcats’ weakness.
In the Cincinnati 3-3-5 defense, the Mike and Will linebackers have good size. Beavers is almost too big at 255 pounds and Dublanko is 240 pounds. The aforementioned Myjai Sanders has adequate size for an edge rusher, at 255 pounds on a 6’5″ frame. The interior beef for the 3-3-5 is where the Bearcats are undersized. Curtis Brooks is 285 pounds and Malik Vann is 275 pounds. Backup Jabari Taylor is 280 pounds. The two guys who rotate at the Sam linebacker position are 218 and 220 pounds.
Alabama Football can push the Bearcats around
The Cincinnati front six will face Alabama football formations that include offensive linemen and a tight end at 350 lbs.; 305 lbs.; 300 lbs.; 324 lbs.; 305 lbs. and 298 lbs. The Crimson Tide linemen don’t have bad weight and their, more than a few pounds, per man advantage, can be exploited in the Crimson Tide run game.
Fortunately for the Bearcats, they have outstanding cover guys. Because of that, Luke Fickell and Defensive Coordinator, Mike Tressel may try to sneak a seventh guy into the box when they guess run.
Many Alabama football fans are convinced that unless the Bearcats load the box, Brian Robinson Jr. and other Tide running backs will put up big numbers. The Crimson Tide is too explosive to suddenly become a run-first team. To do so would waste much of Bryce Young’s talent. But a strategy that pounds the Bearcats and forces them to use an extra box defender would also pay dividends in the passing game. Even without John Metchie, Jameson Williams and two or three other Tide receivers will be a major challenge for the Bearcats’ very good man coverage.
Will the smaller Cincinnati pass rushers be too quick for the Crimson Tide? Not when Bryce Young gets the ball out of his hands quickly.