An NFL draft analyst thinks highly of both Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand.
NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein ranks both Payne and Hand in his top 11 college football defensive linemen to watch in 2017.
Payne ranks No. 3 and Hand ranks No. 7 on his list.
Zierlein writes that Payne “proved more than capable” of taking over for the departed A’Shawn Robinson last season.
“Payne is a block of granite with great lean muscle mass as well as exceptional body control and contact balance,” Zierlein writes. “He is an elite run-stuffer with heavy hands and is only on the ground when he’s finishing a tackle. His textbook approach to handling double teams is classic Crimson Tide and he should be an easy fit in a nose spot for either 3-4 or 4-3 teams on the next level.
“He’s not a total stiff as a pass rusher, but he still needs to improve in that area.”
Payne played in all 15 games for Alabama last season as a sophomore. He had 36 tackles (3.5 for a loss), 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
Hand, a former No. 1 overall recruit, did not play as much as expected last season behind Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson, though that’s expected to change as a likely starter this fall as a senior.
“… Hand is in a position where he should see plenty of playing time,” Zierlein writes. “He needs to produce against both the run and the pass so that teams view him as an every-snap talent and not just a physical specimen. Hand is long with good core strength and some flashy potential at the point of attack as a run defender. He should be an NFL consideration for both 4-3 and 3-4 teams at the defensive end spot with an ability to rush from the inside.”
In three seasons at Alabama, Hand has 44 tackles, including 11 for a loss and six sacks.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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