The Alabama Defense last year was one of the most dominant units College Football has seen in some time, and there are several prospects that are high on many people's draft boards. There are also a couple guys that aren't household names that might slip a bit and become steals for the team that drafts them, and one of those guys is NT Josh Chapman, the unsung hero of a 3-4 Defense.
Chapman was a regular on the Crimson Tide Defensive Line rotation, playing in 53 games in his career, starting in 25 of them in his junior and senior seasons. While his tackle numbers weren't spectacular (87 career, including 13.5 for a loss), but the job of a Nose Tackle is not to make tackles; it is to eat up blockers so your teammates can make the tackles, and Chapman did this job quite well. Alabama ranked first in the country last season in rush defense, allowing just 72 yards rushing per game, and their yards per carry (2.43) ranked second to Florida State.
Want to know how much toughness this guy (in my best Gruden voice) has? He played the final three months of the season on a torn ACL. Yes, I'd call that toughness. He had surgery on the knee after the National Championship game, and is still recovering, so we won't be able to work out for any teams before the draft. Just how did he do it?
It was difficult at the time. I knew when I found out my ACL was torn vs. Florida, it was just... man, it was kinda had
my mind down. But at the same time, there was a little stability in there, and they said I could fix it or keep on going. But if I kept going, it was limited reps, so tape the knee, brace it up to a tee and it was, I mean, as long as I keep going, I could keep going.
Pretty incredible if you think about it. I understand playing QB is a different animal than playing NT, but Philip Rivers gets high praise for playing in one playoff game with an ACL tear. It's on a whole different level to play nine games with one.
After the jump we have what some draft sites have to say about Chapman, as well as all his measurements from the Combine, audio from his media session, and my thoughts on him.
A thick, girthy defender with a strong looking lower half and long arms for his frame. Exhibits a strong anchor on contact when asked to eat up blocks inside...Has the making of a starting caliber nose at the next level in either a 3-4 and 4-3 front. Can consistently anchor on contact, is long armed and tough to move off the football. Also, is a better pass rusher than given credit for. Will likely fall because of medical concerns, but could be a real bargain because of it.
Stout, competitive, gritty, two-down run plugger with a safe factor given the dependability, consistency and blue-collar mentality he brought to a national champion. Played through tears of ACL, meniscus in left knee suffered on Oct. 1 (did not participate in Senior Bowl).
Chapman has been a consistent presence for Nick Saban's defense as a two-down nose tackle. Though his stats will not stand out, as is the case with most effective nose tackles in the 3-4 defense, Chapman is the large bowling ball that keeps the Alabama defense rolling. He is able to stuff lanes inside and keep his talented linebackers free to make plays.
Combine Media Session (4:24)
Chapman was an unheralded part of a great defense at Alabama last year, and his toughness certainly cannot be questioned after playing almost the entire year on a torn ACL. He's also a guy who has experience playing the Nose in a 3-4 Defense, so there wouldn't be any projection questions about whether he could play the position. The injury will probably drop him a bit into the middle rounds, where he looks like he could be a steal. If the Colts don't get a NT at pick #34, look for Chapman to get serious consideration in later rounds.
For a complete list of prospects and profiles, check out our 2012 Draft Profiles Page.