Defenders and Draft Picks
Over the past three seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide defense has had eleven defenders drafted. There are teams in college football that haven’t had eleven players drafted, total, over the past five seasons. Last year alone, the Tide had four defenders taken in the top 60 picks of the 2016 draft. Of those eleven defensive selections, there have been two first rounders and five second rounders. That’s incredible.
But, what’s scary for teams in the SEC and, presumably, in the 2016 College Football Playoff is the fact that there might be more than eleven defenders drafted in future years…from this one defense. A few weeks ago, I was asked by one of the many radio stations I interview with on a regular basis how many of the Tide’s front seven will get drafted.
“All of them.”
The hosts chuckled and then I followed that up by telling them they were asking the wrong question. The biggest question is how many of that front seven will go in the first two rounds of future drafts.
Jonathan Allen might get Heisman consideration. DaRon Payne is only a sophomore and might be the best interior defender in football after less than two years at Alabama. Dalvin Tomlinson gets overshadowed but NFL teams will covet his strength and quickness. DaShawn Hand can hardly get on the field and he’s a stud – he was once the top recruit in the nation. Outside linebacker Tim Williams is a blur off the edge and his opposite number Ryan Anderson might be the team’s most valuable defender through nine weeks. Inside linebacker Reuben Foster is my top off the ball linebacker in this draft class. Shaun Dion Hamilton is only a junior but with another top notch season in 2017, he could definitely be a top two round pick in 2018.
But, the secondary takes a backseat to no one. Unfortunately, safety Eddie Jackson broke his leg against Texas A&M and will miss the rest of the season. Luckily, he did enough in his career to be a top two round pick in 2017, if his health checks out. Marlon Humphrey is a star in the making and could declare as a redshirt sophomore. If he does, he might be the first or second cornerback off the board in this year’s draft. Minkah Fitzpatrick is only a true sophomore and could be a bigger version of Cardinals chess piece Tyrann Mathieu. The best secondary member, though, might end up being safety Ronnie Harrison who is an NFL safety prototype, but like Fitzpatrick, he’s a true sophomore and ineligible for this year’s draft.
Doing the math, there are legitimately a dozen players on this defense that’ll get drafted at some point over the next three drafts. And, none of that dozen will have to wait long to hear their names on draft night either. Wonder why LSU’s all-world running back Leonard Fournette struggled in his three matchups with Alabama (only 48 yards per game)?
Yeah, it’s pretty clear.