In the days leading to the start of the college football season, NFL Draft Scout will count down the top-25 college programs, according to draft-eligible NFL talent on the roster.
Alabama Crimson Tide: No. 1
Alabama Draft History
- NFL Draft picks since moving to seven round format in 1994: 110 (7th in college football)
- NFL Draft picks the last 10 years: 58(3rd in college football)
- NFL Draft picks the last five years: 39(1st in college football)
Looking back at the 2016 NFL Draft
2016 NFL Draft picks: 7
- (1/18) OC Ryan Kelly
- (2/41) LB Reggie Ragland
- (2/45) RB Derrick Henry
- (2/46) DT A’Shawn Robinson
- (2/49) DT Jarran Reed
- (2/60) CB Cyrus Jones
- (3/73) RB Kenyan Drake
Undrafted free agents: QB Jake Coker, DE D.J. Pettway, OL Dominick Jackson, OLB Dillon Lee, ILB Denzel Devall, SS Geno Matias-Smith, DT Darren Lake, TE Ty Flournoy-Smith, WR Richard Mullaney
Looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft
Just like Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, Nick Saban’s squad earns the top spot on this countdown with a surplus of talent on the roster that translates well to the NFL. No program in college football has produced more draft picks over the last five years and the Crimson Tide has an active streak of eight straight years with at least one first round pick. And not only should that streak extend to nine next spring, but Alabama has a realistic chance of matching the record for first-round picks, which is currently held by Miami with six (2004).
Below are the top draft-eligible prospects on the Crimson Tide’s roster for the next level.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-3||Weight: 237||40-yard dash: 4.76|
Could a player with zero career starts entering his senior year turn into a top-10 pick? It’s very possible and his name is Tim Williams. But then again, Williams isn’t an ordinary senior with plenty of experience as a sub package rusher in Alabama’s scheme. A Baton Rouge native who spurned his hometown Tigers for the Tide, Williams collected only eight total tackles his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa. He saw his role develop in 2015 as a situational pass rusher and recorded 10.5 sacks in limited snaps, ranking top-five in the SEC with .70 sacks per game.
A quick-twitch rusher, Williams is a nimble bender off the edge with the instant acceleration to run the arc, collapse the pocket and chase from the backside. His explosive traits out of his stance allows him to cross the face of blockers with suddenness and work his shoulder past the shoulder of blockers. Williams isn’t just speed, showing a competent understanding of hand use to pepper blocks and counter, shedding and keeping his momentum alive. How will he transition to a full-time role? The answer to that question will give scouts a better idea of his football ceiling, but few question is ability as a pass rusher, which is why some view Williams as a potential top-10 pick.
|Class: Redshirt Sophomore||Height: 6-1||Weight: 198||Class: 4.49|
Since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama hasn’t produced many cornerbacks who have gone on to productive NFL careers. But Humphrey might be the most talented prospect at the position during the Saban era and has a chance to change the Alabama cornerback narrative.
A five-star high school recruit, Humphrey redshirted in 2014 before earning a starting nod opposite Cyrus Jones last season as a redshirt freshman. He earned All-SEC honors with 45 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defended, three interceptions and two interceptions. Along with true sophomore Minkah Fitzpatrick, Humphrey should form one of the best cornerback duos in all of college football this season.
Also a standout track athlete at Alabama, Humphrey is dripping with athletic potential. Play speed is critical at the position and he checks that box with speed, lower body fluidity and a quick trigger once he sinks. Humphrey reaches his top speed quickly with his long, composed strides, although he tends to lose balance at the top of routes.
His transition and eye discipline are still in the development phase, but he plays with confidence and shows a natural feel for route recognition. Humphrey is tall, long and uses his ball skills to crowd the catch point when he uses proper spacing. He also has the required mental and physical toughness to sting in run support and bounce back from mistakes in coverage.
Humphrey comes from good stock as his father (Bobby) was a former All-American running back at Alabama and first-round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft and his mother (Barbara) holds UAB’s record in the 400-meter dash (53.30). As only a redshirt sophomore, Humphrey isn’t a lock to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, but if he does, his raw traits will be extremely attractive to pro teams.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-3||Weight: 292||40-yard dash: 4.85|
A prospect who passed up the first round to return for his senior season, Allen has been a do-everything weapon on Saban’s defensive line. After spending his true freshman season as a back-up, he worked his way into the defensive line rotation in 2014 and posted 11.5 tackles for loss.
Allen, who added 20 pounds prior to the 2015 season to expand his role, was schemed both inside and outside in the Tide’s multiple fronts as a junior. He started every game last season and led Alabama with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks, adding 36 tackles and two forced fumbles to earn First Team All-SEC honors.
Although not a sudden rusher who screams off the edge, Allen is a pass rush threat due to his powerful hands and punch to control the point of attack, giving himself options while reading the ball. He converts speed to power with contact balance and body control while also showing the lateral agility to knife through gaps and out-leverage blockers.
He has scheme diverse ability (Saban: “His diversity to play outside, rush inside, play the point, makes him a pretty special guy…we want more players like Jonathan Allen.”) and will benefit from a creative defensive coordinator in the NFL who can move him around and doesn’t just use him on the edge, similar to how the Seattle Seahawks use Michael Bennett.
|Class: Junior||Height: 6-5||Weight: 327||40-yard dash: 5.28|
Alabama loses several key pieces from last year’s offensive line, including stalwart center Ryan Kelly. But Robinson returns as the rock left tackle, having started all 29 games the past two seasons since he arrived in Tuscaloosa as a five-star recruit. After an impressive Freshman All-American season in 2014, Robinson earned First Team All-SEC honors a year ago as a sophomore and was a key contributor on Alabama’s journey to last year’s national title.
Robinson is a people mover in the run game with strong hands, powerful lower body and nastiness to drive defenders away from designed lanes. He uses his natural momentum to uproot and redirect, walling off by winning the hand battle and using his broad frame as a barrier. Robinson has the foot quickness and balance to climb and engage linebackers, showing flexible hips and range.
He shows similar movement skills in pass protection, but his technique needs work due to bending at the waist and impatient tendencies. Robinson will also need to answer tough questions about off-field concerns during the pre-draft process when teams put him under the microscope. With teams like Texas A&M, LSU and Tennessee on the roster, Robinson will face his share of next level pass rushers this season, giving scouts a chance to see his evolution as a pass blocker in 2016.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-1||Weight: 240||40-yard dash: 4.72|
With the loss of Reggie Ragland, several are asking how the Tide will fill those large shoes. But anyone who watched Alabama last season couldn’t help but also notice Foster, who enjoys hitting as much as Ragland, but plays even faster.
Another former five-star recruit, the Auburn native chose the Tide over the Tigers and waited his turn on the depth chart with only one start his first two years as his playing time slowly increased. Foster became a starter last season next to Ragland as an inside linebacker and finished second (behind Ragland) on the team with 73 tackles, also posting 8.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and nine passes defended.
A linebacker who is always hunting, Foster is an explosive tackler and arrives with violence, staying low and bringing his hips. He diagnoses play speed well and shows the range in pursuit to close and break down while attacking at full speed. Foster is instinctive and quick to process, although he would benefit from better anticipating blocks to avoid being slowed while chasing the ball carrier. Just like most linebackers, he can struggle sticking with backs in the screen game, but he has the athletic upside and drop range to be better than mediocre in coverage. In his second year as a starter, the stage is set for Foster to take the next step in his development and secure a spot in the first round.
O.J. Howard, TE, Sr. (6-6, 242, 4.57)
Like Butt at Michigan, Howard likely passed up a spot in the top-50 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft in order to return for his senior year in Tuscaloosa. He was considered the No. 1 prep tight end out of high school and made an immediate impact with 14 catches, 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns as a true freshman.
Howard posted similar numbers as a sophomore (17 catches for 260 yards), but became a full-time starter as a junior last season. He was underutilized as a receiver in Lane Kiffin’s offense, lining up mostly inline, on the wing or flexed in the spot. Howard finished with 38 receptions for 602 yards and two touchdowns, including his only career 100-yard receiving game as the offensive MVP of the National Title game (five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns).
Howard is a balanced athlete with speed to stretch the seam that linebackers can’t match, commanding double-teams in coverage. He doesn’t slow in his route, catch well in stride with the dynamic qualities to make something happen after the catch. He is a fluid pass catcher with the length and catch radius to be a mismatch downfield, but is unproven as a reliable option in traffic and doesn’t consistently play up to his size.
Although he doesn’t have the strength to sustain or overpower as a blocker, Howard does just enough when squared to his target to keep defenders busy. With only one career game with 85+ yards receiving, Howard isn’t a high volume pass-catcher on film, but he projects as a better pro and should see his targets increase as a senior.
|Class: Senior||Height: 6-0||Weight: 195||40-yard dash: 4.53|
A cornerback-turned-safety, Jackson put together several highlights last season as a junior, but made the wise move to return for his senior season to turn those flashes into consistency. The highly-recruited corner started four games as a true freshman before becoming a full-time starter as a sophomore, posting 41 tackles, seven passes defended and his first career interception in 2014.
Due to the needs on the depth chart, Jackson transitioned to safety last season as a junior and recorded an All-American season, including a team-best six interceptions for 230 return yards and two scores. He also finished 2015 with 46 tackles, eight passes defended and one forced fumble, earning First Team All-SEC and Defensive MVP honors in the National Championship win over Clemson.
As a former cornerback, Jackson is a versatile athlete with the torso flexibility and overall body control to cover large quadrants of the football field. He has strong ball skills and shows a scorer’s mentality with the ball, averaging 38.3 yards per interception return last season with two scores. Jackson trusts what he sees to properly read and react, although his path to the ball carrier isn’t always the smoothest path due to overaggressive tendencies, leading to missed tackles. When attacking alleys, he needs to better throttle down and come to balance to restrict running lanes and finish. If he makes the necessary improvements as a senior, Jackson has a chance to put himself in the first round discussion.
|Class: Redshirt Senior||Height: 6-2||Weight: 253||40-yard dash: 4.77|
Aside from Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams, no Alabama player had more tackles for loss or sacks last season than Anderson. After his redshirt season in 2012, he played sparingly in 2013 before proving to be a key reserve as a sophomore in 2014, posting 8.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Despite coming off the bench, Anderson had his best season last year as a junior with 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.
A hybrid rusher, Anderson has tweener characteristics, but that doesn’t limit him as a player. He has outstanding edge quickness and uses his naturally low pad level to stay close to the ground and skim the corner, staying underneath blockers. Anderson is a see-ball, get-ball type of defender and needs to develop his anticipation and diagnose skills pre-snap, but the motor doesn’t quit when he smells blood.
He saw most of his snaps on passing downs with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end and lacks true experience dropping or playing away from the line of scrimmage. With Alabama’s loaded depth chart, especially at linebacker, Anderson might not start in 2016, but he should again make an impact as a sub package rusher.
|Class: Redshirt Senior||Height: 6-2||Weight: 207||40-yard dash: 4.62|
A two-time transfer, Dieter isn’t the type of player who will create headlines, but his transfer was one of the more important off-season additions for Alabama in 2016.
A native of South Bend, he started his career at SMU where he started three games as a true freshman in 2012. Dieter transferred to Bowling Green and, after sitting out the 2013 season due to transfer rules, set career-bests as a junior last season with 94 receptions for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns. With one final year of eligibility and his degree in hand, Dieter chose to transfer to Alabama for the 2016 where he will be eligible immediately.
Dieter is a good-sized athlete with large, reliable hands to compete in contested situations and make the occasional one-handed grab to bail out errant throws. Although deliberate with his footwork and body lean in his routes, he lacks the sudden burst to easily create separation with limited gears in his athletic arsenal. Dieter has a strong stiff-arm to brush off would-be tacklers, but isn’t much of a threat as a ball carrier. He won’t be a game-breaker before or after the catch, but Dieter is as reliable a possession target as there is in college football with his sure hands and tough-minded approach that will give him a chance at a pro career.
Other draft-eligible prospects to watch:
- Cooper Bateman, QB, rJr. (6-3, 224, 4.85, #18)
- Bo Scarbrough, RB, rSo. (6-1, 230, 4.62, #9)
- Robert Foster, WR, rJr. (6-2, 194, 4.54, #1)
- ArDarius Stewart, WR, rJr. (6-0, 204, 4.58, #13)
- Korren Kirven, OL, rSr. (6-4, 308, 5.23, #78)
- Ross Pierschbacher, OC, rSo. (6-4, 304, 5.21, #71)
- Alphonse Taylor, RG, rSr. (6-5, 345, 5.63, #50)
- Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Jr. (6-4, 278, 4.74, #9)
- Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, rSr. (6-2, 307, 5.14, #54)
- Shaun Dion Hamilton, ILB, Jr. (6-0, 232, 4.78, #20)
- Rashaan Evans, OLB, Jr. (6-3, 230, 4.59, #32)
- Tony Brown, CB, Jr. (6-0, 195, 4.38, #7)
- Hootie Jones, SS, Jr. (6-2, 214, 4.63, #6
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Top 25 NFL Draft Rankings: No. 1 Alabama has shot at first-round record