With just days away from the 2021 NFL Draft, the Alabama Crimson Tide looks to make history once again. Last year’s 2020 NFL Draft featured nine players selected in all rounds and four players selected in the first round. Three of the last four NFL Drafts have featured four Alabama players selected in the first round. This year, there are projected to be six players selected in the first round. This would tie the six players of the Miami Hurricanes that were selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. These are all significant contributors that helped gave Alabama their 18th National Championship title and their fourth College Football Playoff title. Here are the six Alabama players projected to be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Six Alabama Players Projected in First Round of 2021 Draft
Mac Jones – Quarterback (redshirt Junior)
Last year, Jones had a big role to replace the irreplaceable Tua Tagovailoa. Not only did Jones replace him but he guided the team to a perfect 13-0 National Title season. This past season, Jones passed for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only four interceptions on 311 completions (out of 402 passing attempts). Jones declared early for the 2021 NFL Draft as he projected to be a first-round selection. Jones ranks as the fifth-best quarterback in the Draft on many draft boards. He is, however, impressing NFL general managers and head coaches enough to where they might make a significant trade to get him. He fits the traditional pro-style quarterback that several NFL offenses do not possess anymore. If the San Francisco 49ers do not make the pick for him with the third overall pick, Jones will not likely slip past 15th overall where the New England Patriots.
DeVonta Smith – Wide Receiver (Senior)
The Crimson Tide had one of the most dominant offenses in the history of college football. While Jones was the quarterback leading the team, most of the glory went to Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith. This past season, Smith caught 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He is just the fourth-ever wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. Smith is the first receiver to win it since 1991. Smith’s draft profile features him as a tremendous playmaker and dangerous route skills but he has been criticized for his small frame. Teams like the Miami Dolphins at the sixth overall or the Detroit Lions at the seventh overall are the earliest he could go. Smith would reunite with Tagovailoa, who is the unquestioned first-string quarterback at Miami. The Philadelphia Eagles at 12th overall is another possibility considering he will reunite with first-string quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Jaylen Waddle – Wide Receiver (Junior)
Smith wasn’t the only elite wide receiver this past season for Alabama. Junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was explosive and dynamic despite having his season cut short with a broken ankle. In the six games played that include the return for the National Championship game, Waddle caught 28 receptions for 591 yards and four touchdowns. Waddle has been a dynamic playmaker in the passing game and the return game since arriving in Tuscaloosa. Teams with needs for a dynamic playmaker like Detroit, the Carolina Panthers at eighth overall, and Philadelphia are teams that could make the pick for Waddle. He is a player that will contribute immediately to his new NFL team in the receiving and return game as Justin Jefferson did for the Minnesota Vikings.
Patrick Surtain II – Cornerback (Junior)
Continuing the long line of elite playmakers from the secondary to be selected high in the first round is Patrick Surtain II. After filling in for an injured starter halfway through his true freshman season, Surtain became an instant lockdown cornerback. In the two and a half seasons of Surtain as a starter, he has accumulated 116 total tackles, 82 solo tackles, six tackles for loss, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 24 pass breakups. Surtain is regarded as the best lockdown cornerback prospect in this NFL Draft. With so much attention to the passing game in this 2021 NFL Draft, teams are going to overlook defensive players. It will be difficult for a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who have the 10th overall pick, to forgo Surtain in favor of another position need. He isn’t likely to slip past the 16th overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals.
Christian Barmore – Defensive Tackle (redshirt sophomore)
In such a short amount of time, defensive tackle Christian Barmore has turned into a dominant force in the interior defensive for Alabama. He was a huge impact in his freshman season, but last season was his most impactful. Barmore accounted for 37 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three pass deflections, and three forced fumbles. Barmore is a tremendous and dominant pass rusher despite being a defensive tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, Barmore’s career pass rush grades at a 92.2. There have been reports that claim Barmore isn’t coachable. Barmore could see himself as early as the 10th overall to Dallas or 17th to the Las Vegas Raiders at 17th overall. Teams like the Cleveland Browns at 26th overall or the New Orleans Saints at 29th overall would a great steal for them.
Najee Harris – Running Back (Senior)
For a running back to be drafted in the first round, they would have to be special or freakish players. Alabama running back Najee Harris looks to be the first player at his position drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. This past season, Harris rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns on 251 carries. He also caught 43 receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns. In 2019, Harris caught 27 receptions for 304 yards and seven touchdowns. Harris is a dynamic playmaker that has tremendous breakout speed, agility, and toughness. There will be several playoff caliber teams that could potentially make the pick for him. The earliest could be the Miami Dolphins at 18th overall that would reunite him and Tagovailoa. The New York Jets at 23rd overall or Pittsburgh Steelers at 24th overall are the late ones to potentially pick up Harris.