Catch-22: Alabama prepares for big draft, big void

“Competitive character” and “responding to adversity” are phrases that have come to define the Alabama football program. So has “early exodus.”

Since Nick Saban became the coach at Alabama, a total of 34 players have left the program early to pursue dreams of professional football. Seventeen of those have been selected in the first round.

This past Friday, four University of Alabama players– offensive tackle Jonah Williams, running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Irv Smith Jr, and nose guard Quinnen Williams—continued that trend when they declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, to be held April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee.

As of Monday, January 14, a total of seven Crimson Tide players had decided to forego their college careers early, and that’s the most in the history of the program. Which begs the question: can Alabama fill this massive void and maintain the same level of dominance as it has seen over the last decade?

Forasmuch as Alabama’s draft history helps the program with potential recruits, the Catch-22 is that each year Saban is tasked with filling up the holes left behind by draftees.

Since 2009, 26 Crimson Tide players have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Here they are:

2009 (1)

Andre Smith                  #6                Cincinnati Bengals


2010 (2)  

Rolando McClain          #8                Oakland Raiders

Kareem Jackson          #20               Houston Texans


2011 (4)

Marcell Dareus             #3                 Buffalo Bills

Julio Jones                   #6                 Atlanta Falcons

James Carpenter         #25               Seattle Seahawks

Mark Ingram                #28                New Orleans Saints


2012 (4)

Trent Richardson          #3                 Cleveland Browns

Mark Barron                 #7                  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dre Kilpatrick               #17                Cincinnati Bengals

Dont’a Hightower        #25                 New England Patriots


2013 (3)

Dee Milliner                  #9                  New York Jets

Chance Warmack        #10                Tennessee Titans

D.J. Fluker                   #11                San Diego Chargers


2014 (2)

C.J. Mosley                 #17                Baltimore Ravens

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix       #21                Green Bay Packers


2015 (1)

Amari Cooper              #4                  Oakland Raiders


2016 (1)

Ryan Kelly                   #18                Indianapolis Colts


2017 (4)

Marlon Humphrey       #16                Baltimore Ravens

Jonathan Allen            #17                Washington Redskins

O.J. Howard                #19                Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reuben Foster             #31                San Francisco 49ers


2018 (4)

Minkah Fitzpatrick       #11                Miami Dolphins

Daron Payne                #13                Washington Redskins

Rashaan Evans            #22                Tennessee Titans

Calvin Ridley               #26                 Atlanta Falcons

Last year, Alabama set a record with 12 players drafted, breaking its own mark of 10 players drafted in the 2017 draft. This year, both of the Williamses, Jonah and Quinnen, are projected to be Top 10 picks.

Other potential draft picks from Alabama’s 2018 team that went 14-1 are: running back Damien Harris, linebacker Mack Wilson, safety Deionte Thompson, and cornerback Saivion Smith. H&A


Cover photo courtesy University of Alabama Athletics 


Al Blanton

Al Blanton

Born in Jasper, Alabama, Al is the owner and publisher of Blanton Media Group.
Al Blanton

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