What's Being Said About Alabama's Top Players a Week Before the 2021 NFL Draft

With so many former Crimson Tide players in the NFL draft, there's a ton of talk about the Alabama prospects, both good and bad
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You may have noticed that BamaCentral added a premium section this week, which we've been teasing and mentioning for months. In the very near future the ability for readers to comment under stories, and a message board, will be added. 

Among the other benefits with membership will be access to the other FanNation sites and Sports Illustrated premium content. 

Here's a taste of that, with what's being said throughout the network about Alabama's prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Just to warn you beforehand, not all of it is positive. BamaCentral will remain a news site first, and won't simply tell our readers what they want to hear. With something like this, we'll inform with what's being said even if we might not agree with it, to provide a more complete picture.

(For example, the backlash in San Francisco about the 49ers possibly selecting Mac Jones at No. 3 overall is very real). 

Links are also provided for those who want to see more. 

Christian Barmore: "Calling Christian Barmore a late bloomer would be a disservice to the University of Alabama sophomore, who wasn't originally a major recruit out of Neumann-Goretti High in Philadelphia and was redshirted in his first season with the Crimson Tide. Because in just two seasons of college football, Barmore has turned himself into perhaps the finest defensive tackle on the NFL Draft board. An exciting prospect who shined brightest under the spotlight of the BCS National Championship game, Barmore supplied ample evidence that his best days are ahead of him and that he can be a better player in the right NFL system than he was at Alabama. — Bills Central 

Deonte Brown: "Your throwback War Daddy up front, Brown is an imposing presence along the offensive line. Boasting a compact and powerful frame, Brown is a mauler who creates a lot of movement in the run game. With an extremely powerful lower half, Brown is able to create an absurd amount of power in very tight spaces. When he is able to get his hands inside on defenders, it is almost a guaranteed game over. Brown is a battler who shows outstanding effort on a snap-to-snap basis. There are moments of dominance on film against a daunting SEC schedule. Despite his squatty frame, Brown is a surprisingly efficient mover working to the second level. As good as he can move vertically, he lacks the flexibility to work laterally at a consistent rate. Brown is a bit heavy footed, which can contribute to his struggle to redirect, especially in pass protection. There is some bad weight on his frame that could potentially be the difference between being a high-quality starter and regulated backup option. For now, his combination of natural power, effort and physicality make him a strong candidate as a starting option relatively early in his NFL career." — NFL Draft Bible

Landon Dickerson: "When healthy, Dickerson is a monster on the offensive line, literally and figuratively. You just don’t find many guys who are built like he is and play the way he does. His medicals are the biggest issue teams may have with him as it leads to questions on how long he can last in the NFL. While he is capable of playing any of the five positions, inside is his best spot and only to be used as a tackle in emergency situations. There is also good enough movement to be used in any scheme, but his best work may be something that keeps him inside and relying on his power. If the medicals checked out, Dickerson would be a great fit on the Broncos."  — Mile High Huddle

Najee Harris: "Right now, many believe Alabama's Najee Harris and Clemson's Travis Etienne will be the only two running backs taken in the opening round of the NFL Draft. For the Steelers, they'll wait to see if either fall to pick No. 24, where former NFL and NCAA head coach Jim Mora Jr. believes they can add a star to their backfield. 'I'm not going to back off my belief that if the Pittsburgh Steelers draft Najee Harris that we should all be doing backflips because it's a great pick,'" Mora said. — All Steelers

Mac Jones: "The pressure on Shanahan will rise if the 49ers draft Jones. Jones is a prospect who couldn't sniff the top 10 in mock drafts or any other think pieces until the 49ers traded up. Just over a month ago, a bunch of us writers at All49ers Sports Illustrated thought Jones as 12 was a possibility because no team was going to take him high.  Jones' value should be no higher than No. 15 in the draft. Personally, I believe he is good value even in the 20s. I just don't see much from him in terms of trajectory. What you see is what you get with him. Drafting him would mean nearly the same limitations the 49ers have on offense with Jimmy Garoppolo, only except Jones will be healthier and on a rookie contract. Other than that, it makes no sense that they would trade three first-round picks and some change for the same type of quarterback as Garoppolo. I do not believe for one second that Jones will be the pick, but I am also not naïve to completely rule out the possibility that he ends up drafted at No. 3. That is why if Shanahan does draft Jones, then the pressure is ON. It would be one of the biggest overdrafts in recent NFL Draft memory." — All 49ers 

Alex Leatherwood: "On paper, the Green Bay Packers are set at guard. Last year’s returning starters, Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick, are under contract. Plus, the team used sixth-round choices on Jon Runyan and Simon Stepaniak last year. However, if Jenkins or Patrick wind up moving to center, there will be a hole in the lineup, though Runyan showed promise in limited action as a rookie. Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood is our No. 4-ranked guard." — Packer Central 

Dylan Moses: "Prior to suffering a torn ACL during training camp in 2019, many scouts had Moses pegged as a first-round pick and he gave the thought of entering the draft early a good, hard look despite the injury. One of the team leaders on the Crimson Tide, Moses is responsible for calling the plays at his MIKE position. Moses owns a true nose for the football, along with top-shelf sideline-to-sideline speed. In addition, his change-of-direction skills and fluid hips are two of his best attributes. Just as impressive as his play on the field, Moses possesses elite measurables on the track. He has been clocked at 4.46 in the 40 according to the LSU coaching staff (spring 2017), with a 34-inch vertical jump, 500-pound squat, 405-pound bench press and 335-pound power clean. He seems to get bigger, stronger, faster every year, which is remarkable. With that type of athleticism and strength, NFL teams could have visions of utilizing him in various roles at the next level. The problem is Moses looked like a shell of his former self in 2020. Many will attribute it to his return from injury, but Moses seemed to have a slow trigger and even worse eye discipline. If he can get back to 2018 form, someone may be in for a huge bargain. The once slam-dunk first-round prospect is more than likely going to come off the board on Day 2 with question marks galore." — NFL Draft Bible

DeVonta Smith: "Some thoughts on Smith and his weight: That he came in officially at 166 instead of 170 is not a big deal in and of itself because at that point, what's difference does 4 pounds really make? But it doesn't alleviate any of the concerns about Smith's ability to hold up physically in the NFL, whether he was 6-1, 175 (as listed at Alabama) or his now-official measurements of 6 feet, 166. Sure, Smith's frame didn't stop him from being dominant in college, from the time he caught the national title-winning touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa in overtime in the 2017 season to his incredible Heisman season of 2020. But college success does not necessarily equate to NFL success, and there are countless examples to prove that. There is also no historical precedent for somebody of Smith's stature to star in the NFL after being a high first-round pick." — All Dolphins

Patrick Surtain II: "We here at CowboysSI.com have painted some NFL Draft scenarios in which the Dallas Cowboys use their first three picks — at Nos. 10, 44 and 75 — to net two players, both from Alabama. Cornerback Patrick Surtain and defensive tackle Christian Barmore. The ESPN Mel Kiper/Todd McShay NFL Mock Draft just found us a more simple way. ... Barmore to Dallas would not be a shocker. But the way we've theorized it, the Cowboys would engineer that by using No. 10 (on Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Surtain or Jaycee Horn, maybe thought of in that order) and then by later packaging picks Nos. 44 and 75 to jump back into the 20ss in the first round to grab Barmore (or TCU safety Trevon Moehrig, cornerback Caleb Farley or one of the available linebackers). But to get Surtain without moving ... and then to get Barmore without also giving up an extra pick? That would be a coup." — Cowboy Maven

Jaylen Waddle: "Like bees swarming that annoying hive that always seems to be constructed above your front door or just outside your second-floor window, the buzz is strong around Jaylen Waddle. Jim Mora Jr told me last week that is who he believes the Eagles will draft the Alabama receiver with pick No. 12. Then Mora changed his mind and said, no, he’ll be gone by then, so he changed to Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. On Monday, Gil Brandt went with Waddle for the Eagles. “I think they have to, provided his ankle is OK, pick Waddle,” said Brandt. “I think Waddle is really, really a good player. They’ve failed picking a wide receiver in the last four or five years and they have this draft pick they took two years ago (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside) that was going to be so good and he hasn’t turned out to be much of anything and that’s hurt them. They have a retooling job.” — Eagle Maven 

What's Vegas Saying? 

The odds on when players will be selected have been continually fluctuating, as the abbreviated draft season has led to more uncertainty than usual. While they will likely continue to change until the draft begins, here's where BetOnline has some former Alabama players listed.  

DeVonta Smith: Over/Under 11½ 

Jaylen Waddle: 11½

Najee Harris: 32½

Patrick Surtain II: 10½

Jones is still the favorite to be the No. 3 pick in the draft, and the money is on Surtain to be the first defensive player selected. 

The over/under for Alabama players selected in the first round is 5½.

The latest rankings 

It's really hard to make heads of tails of what's really going to happen in the draft as everyone seems to have a different take. 

But that's the point. There are 32 teams in the NFL and each one evaluates players differently. Each has scouts, analysts and a variety of front-office people who have different levels of both experience and say in the process. 

With some teams the owner has the final word, and no one may know what he or she thinks until the final seconds. With others, it's the general manager who has the most input, or maybe even the coach.  

Here are two very different lists for the top players in the draft and where the Crimson Tide players are listed:

PFF 

7. WR DeVonta Smith

8. WR Jaylen Waddle

12. DL Christian Barmore

13. CB Patrick Surtain

14. QB Mac Jones

40. OT Alex Leatherwood

44. OL Landon Dickerson

65. RB Najee Harris

125. G Deonte Brown

198. LB Dylan Moses

CBSSports.com 

7. WR Jaylen Waddle

9. WR DeVontra Smith

15. CB Patrick Surtain II

21. QB Mac Jones

25. DL Christian Barmore 

35. RB Najee Harris

39. OL Alex Leatherwood

71. C Landon Dickerson

81. G Deonte Brown 

105. LB Dylan Moses

280. TE Miller Forristall 

359. LS Fletcher Thomas

The point of this isn't to suggest that either has it right or wrong, just show the discrepancies. Remember that any mock draft and big board you see has been put together by someone who isn't employed by an NFL team and in many cases there's a reason for that. 

With that in mind, consider what Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said earlier this week about why he's projecting Jones to the third-overall pick in the draft by the San Francisco 49ers. 

"That's the difference between creating your own list, how you stack the players, how you rank them, how you view them versus a mock draft, which is projecting where you think these guys are going to go. The challenge that I have is that I'm not scouting for a team. I don't have coaches coming in and saying, 'This is what we value, this is what we [want] — if we could tailor our team to what we really want to do here, this is going to help us rank our board. So I'm scouting for a generic team that doesn't exist. So I'm going to be a little more inclined to take the guys with more upside that I think fits in more places that can do more things. 

"I don't think Mac Jones fits all 32 teams. I don't think he fits all the teams that are in the quarterback market. But I understand why the 49ers value what he does, because this is really an opportunity for San Francisco to duplicate what Mac Jones had at Alabama, which is you have a really good offensive line, you've got guys that can win one-on-one match-ups all over the field, and you've got a very creative play caller that's going to find those match-ups and then rely on an accurate, efficient quarterback to function in that system. Well, that's not ... every other team doesn't have all those things in place, so they're not going to value Mac the way Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch might value him. That's a little bit where that disconnect is.

"Look, if he goes to the 49ers, he's going to play well, he's going to be a really good player there. To me I just have him behind those other quarterbacks when I rank them in terms of their ability. Personally I always like to interject there, this is what I think is going to happen, it looks like it points towards Mac Jones, but if I was there even with knowing how much they value the things that Mac is good at, I would still take Trey Lance because I think Trey is going to eventually get to the point where he can deliver all the things that Mac can deliver in terms of being able to process very quickly, make great decisions, and you're going to be able to do more with him in terms of getting him on the move. 

"Accuracy-wise he trails Mac Jones, but I think there are some mechanical things you can fix with him, much like we saw with Josh Allen, and I think you could see Trey Lance get to that level. So that's what I would do, but what I believe they will do is Mac Jones." 

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Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW will appear as premium content on BamaCentral+ beginning next week