Potential Day 1 Prospects
Raekwon Davis, DL, Jr.
Davis projects as one of the many defensive linemen in the 2019 draft class who could hear his name called within the top 10 picks. He had 8.5 sacks on his way to a First Team All-SEC selection in 2017. He will be an appealing option for 3-4 teams at 5-technique (DE) and 3-4 squads at the 3-technique position (DT). It’s only July, but you can be sure that a common theme for the 2019 NFL Draft is going to include defensive linemen and edge rushers with Pro Bowl potential in the top half of round 1. Davis weighs over 300 lbs and is at least 6’6 so he won’t be screaming off the edge at outside linebacker, but I expect him to be a dominant defensive lineman in the NFL.
Jonah Williams, OT, Jr.
Williams wasn’t eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft, but he would have been the first offensive tackle selected in either of the past two classes. As I get into future team previews, you will find that the strength of the upcoming offensive tackle class compared to 2017 and 2018 will be another year-long theme. An early look at Williams shows that he is a better prospect than former Bama left tackle Cam Robinson. Robinson was drafted 34th overall in 2017 by the Jacksonville Jaguars and his slide to the second round was caused by many, including us, thinking that he was better suited to play on the strong side at the pro level. There may be some merit to that after he struggled through his rookie season on the blindside. Williams is smaller than Robinson, but he plays with better technique so I think he has a better chance to be successful at left tackle in the NFL than his predecessor.
Mack Wilson, LB, Jr.
Wilson lost most of last season with a foot injury so we haven’t seen a full season from him yet. Writers try to think of different ways to state the same thing in order to avoid being redundant, but it’s so difficult to stop myself from writing “5-star recruit” over and over again as I record this Alabama draft preview. That’s exactly what Wilson was when he left high school. He is athletic, even by Alabama linebacker standards. For example, he has already caught a touchdown and Green Bay 5th round choice, JK Scott, said he is capable of blasting punts with anyone in the country. More importantly, he profiles as the type of impact player that will break out now that he is healthy and has an opportunity. I think the first round at weakside linebacker in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4 is not only possible, it’s likely.
Anfernee Jennings, LB, Jr.
Jennings is a very good college football player who profiles best as an off-the-ball linebacker at the next level. He has impressive size and athleticism to be viewed as a potential prospect at any linebacker position in both 3-4 and 4-3 bases. He needs a healthy 2018 campaign and a clean bill of health at the combine after offseason knee surgery, but he has the athleticism to ascend into the first round if those things happen.
Saivion Smith, CB, Jr.
Smith is back in the SEC after transferring out of LSU when he got caught up in a CB numbers game that included some of the finest names you’ll ever see in a single position group (Greedy Williams, Donte Jackson, Kevin Toliver). The junior college transfer is big and athletic. I expect the former 5-star recruit to burst onto the scene as a star in Alabama’s depleted secondary. If he does, he will be a 1st round draft choice.
Damien Harris, RB,Sr.
I expected Harris to declare for the 2018 draft and I was ready to give him a 2nd-3rd round grade because I question his speed and felt his production was a tad inflated behind Alabama’s talented offensive line. While I still believe the reason he returned to school was because he didn’t receive a 1st round grade by the draft advisory committee (speculation on my part), I have to keep him on my watch list of potential 1st rounders this early in the process. The running back class won’t be nearly as deep as it was last year and that could help him, but I still think Harris is ultimately a Day 2 choice.
Ross Pierschbacher, C-OG, Sr.
Pierschbacher, a member of a seemingly endless list of top high school recruits, has been a quality starter at guard for the Crimson Tide and now will likely replace departed draft pick, Bradley Bozeman, at center. I think he is already a strong bet to be picked in the top 100, but a strong season at center could vault him into late 1st-early 2nd territory.
Potential Day 2 Prospects
Isaiah Buggs, DL, Sr.
Buggs will set the edge and have a future in the NFL. He needs to show me more as a pass rusher before I feel comfortable calling him a top 100 choice. The good news is that he has a whole year to accomplish that feat. In the meantime, I label him as a solid run defender as a 3-4 end prospect who could be part of a rotation in a 4-3. Those players tend to come off the board in the 4th-5th rounds.
Potential Day 3 Prospects
Trevon Diggs, CB, Jr.
The opportunity is there for Diggs to emerge after Alabama’s entire defensive secondary was lost to the 2018 NFL Draft. He adds a little bit of value as a punt returner. Like the team’s more heralded cornerbacks, Diggs has impressive size. His draft stock will become clearer after we see his play this upcoming season.
Deionte Thompson, SS, Jr.
Like Diggs, I admittedly need to see more of Thompson until I can figure out if he is worth a draft pick. He is finally in for a much bigger role this year now that Ronnie Harrison has moved on to the NFL. Leading up to the draft, he will have to answer questions about a felony assault charge, but it sounds like it may have just been a case of teenagers getting into a fight when one of them was a division 1 athlete.
Christian Miller, Edge, Sr.
I have Miller rated as the lowest of the team’s 3 starting draft-eligible linebackers, but he will definitely get more of a chance to show what he can do this season and he has the athleticism to conceivably get into the 4th round range.
Lester Cotton, OG, Sr.
Cotton has experience at tackle, but he is too short to play there in the NFL. He is probably going to be limited to the two guard positions and that’s going to hurt his chances of getting drafted. At the very least, we should see Cotton in a pro camp as a priority free agent next summer.
Terrell Lewis, Edge, Jr.
I feel bad for this guy. He is a former top recruit, but he hasn’t been able to play because of injuries. Last year, he had a significant elbow injury and now he has torn an ACL. It would be wise for him to return to school next year and that’s probably what he will do. However, he is technically eligible and you never know what factors play into a very personal decision. Lewis will definitely be a health flag whenever he does declare. However, these are two freak injuries and he could ultimately end up being a quality pro player.
Dylan Moses, ILB, So.
Expect to know this name if you don’t already. Moses isn’t eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft, but he has the potential to be a top 10 choice in 2020. It’s already clear that he will be the latest, and possibly best, middle linebacker prospect to dawn a Crimson helmet. He is very athletic and already made an impact with 5.5 TFL as a freshman. Moses has a chance to pair with Northwestern’s Paddy Fisher to form an even more intriguing group of inside/middle linebackers than we saw in the exceptional 2018 class.
Patrick Surtain, DB, Fr.
You already know this name if you’re a football fan because his father (with the same name) spent a decade as an NFL starter at cornerback for the Dolphins and Chiefs. While we need to let the kid play a college game before we get carried away, Surtain was well-regarded as the top DB recruit in the country this previous year and already has tremendous size at 6’2. If he fills out his frame a bit and lives up to expectations, Surtain is a potential high first round selection.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, So.
After last year’s National Championship Game, Tagovailoa is probably the most well-known name on the future list. Unlike Jalen Hurts, Tua has legitimate potential as an NFL prospect. He won’t be eligible for the 2019 selection process, but he will be a strong candidate to be the 1st QB off the board in 2020. Until then, let’s enjoy watching him square off with Jake Fromm in the next couple SEC Championships.
Najee Harris, RB, So.
Harris is a future NFL workhorse at close to 230 lbs and burst onto the scene right away as a true freshman. He is probably less than thrilled that Damien Harris surprisingly decided to come back to school this year, but he should see an uptick in usage before taking on a much greater role in 2019. The irony in this situation is that spending another year as the 1B to Harris will probably improve his draft stock. He’ll have less wear on the tires when he declares for the 2020 NFL draft. His receiving ability could make him a high first round selection because it gives him value in the passing game even if his pass blocking skills don’t improve (but there’s also plenty of time for that too).
Xavier McKinney, FS, So.
I’ve written a lot about the Alabama pedigree of high-end draft choices at linebacker. Well, the same can be said for the school’s recent history of safeties. Nick Saban prides himself on working with the DBs and that’s helped translate players at that position into draft picks, including an astounding 6 in 2018 alone. I believe McKinney is the next high-end safety product. He will get a chance to start this season, but he won’t be eligible for the draft until 2020. Look for McKinney to be a future 1st or 2nd rounder.
Alex Leatherwood, OT, So.
Assuming Williams declares for the draft, Leatherwood will almost certainly take over as the team’s next left tackle. He, too, will be a top prospect in the future. Leatherwood is bigger than Williams and actually held his own when pressed into action last year, including the National Championship Game against Georgia. Look for Leatherwood to be a future 1st or 2nd round tackle.
Jedrick Wills, OG, So.
Wills is going to be the best player along the interior of Alabama’s offensive line after the 2018 season. He appears to be locked in as the starter at right guard this year and is yet another future top 100 draft choice.
Skyler DeLong, P, Fr.
DeLong was a top recruit and will likely take over for JK Scott, arguably the top prospect at the position in the 2018 class.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, So.
DeVonta Smith, WR, So.
Henry Ruggs, WR, So.
I’ve lumped all three of these receivers together for a couple of reasons. First off, none of them have played that much yet. However, they’re all sophomores and primed for bigger roles over the next 2 or 3 years. To be as transparent as possible, I need to see them play and learn more about them. There’s plenty of time for that since none of them will be eligible for the draft until 2020.
Thomas Fletcher, LS, So.
Fletcher is a very highly regarded long snapper. Last year, Tanner Carew’s father asked me if we would start ranking players at the position so here you go. Fletcher has a chance to get drafted late in 2021.