Alabama football has become synonymous with the NFL draft, and with good reason.
There are more former Crimson Tide players in the league than any other school, and second place isn’t close.
Over the last three years Alabama has had hit double-digits in draft picks, including 11 first-round selections.
It looks like it’ll make it four straight, but the number of first-round picks will be something to watch.
Over the past year Alabama’s had a dozen-plus different players hailed as potential first-round picks this year, which is both kind of misleading and also testament to Nick Saban’s recruiting prowess. These are recruiting classes that he still landed despite experiencing extreme turnover on his coaching staffs.
Saban noted that only one player, Tua Tagovailoa, landed a top-15 grade from the draft advisory board and the other evaluations Alabama received from NFL teams.
At the National Championship Game, Dabo Swinney called him, “Awesome. If I was in the NFL, I’d be taking Tua.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron raved about him as well.
"I think he's one of the best college football players ever," Orgeron said. "He changed the way we doing things in the SEC—he's one of 'em. He's a pioneer. He has a great family. I remember two years ago when we played them and my first recollection in his first pass—it was the quickest release I had seen in 35 years of football. Now you can practice it, but boy I'll tell you, to see it is something else. A tremendous competitor. Always handles himself with first class. I can't say that I'm sorry that he's not coming back. I'm not going to say that but he's meant a lot for football. I think he's going to be a tremendous pro.”
Assuming his rehab continues to go well, we’re considered Tagovailoa a lock for the first round.
Heading into next week’s Senior Bowl on Mobile, which is when the evaluations start to take on a whole new level, here’s what we’re hearing about Alabama’s players. The draft will be held April 23–25 in Las Vegas.
Tagovailoa: Maybe top-five pick regardless of the hip injury.
Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver: Responded to critics with his huge performance in the Citrus Bowl. First round.
Jedrick Wills Jr., tackle: Low first round. Tackle is always a need position.
Henry Ruggs III, wide receiver: Low first round. Teams will love his speed, and be pleasantly surprised to how much of a complete receiver he’s become.
Trevon Diggs, cornerback: Second round. Diggs had a good season, but the LSU game hurt his draft stock. He needs to test well.
Xavier McKinney, safety: Second round. Not a lot of teams takes safeties in the first round.
Raekwon Davis, defensive tackle: Second round, although he’ll be one of those players teams rave about at the combine. He’ll pass the eye test as well as anyone.
Terrell Lewis, linebacker: Low second round, possible third round. Enormous potential, but with risk due to his injury history.
Anfernee Jennings, linebacker: Low second round, possible third round. Teams looking for that rock of a player who can be counted upon will love Jennings. He could be primed for a long NFL career.
Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden, safety: Both are looking at being day three picks, probably around the fifth and sixth rounds.
That’s 11 players, with at least seven who could get first-round consideration as the draft process progresses.
The record for most draft picks in one year is Miami with six in 2004.