“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:
Andre Smith #6 Cincinnati Bengals
Rolando McClain #8 Oakland Raiders
Kareem Jackson #20 Houston Texans
Marcell Dareus #3 Buffalo Bills
Julio Jones #6 Atlanta Falcons
James Carpenter #25 Seattle Seahawks
Mark Ingram #28 New Orleans Saints
Trent Richardson #3 Cleveland Browns
Mark Barron #7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dre Kilpatrick #17 Cincinnati Bengals
Dont’a Hightower #25 New England Patriots
Dee Milliner #9 New York Jets
Chance Warmack #10 Tennessee Titans
D.J. Fluker #11 San Diego Chargers
C.J. Mosley #17 Baltimore Ravens
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 Green Bay Packers
Amari Cooper #4 Oakland Raiders
Ryan Kelly #18 Indianapolis Colts
Marlon Humphrey #16 Baltimore Ravens
Jonathan Allen #17 Washington Redskins
O.J. Howard #19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reuben Foster #31 San Francisco 49ers
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