2021 NFL First Round Could Feature Record Seven Alabama Players

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Every year, there are high expectations or goals that push for a more exciting NFL draft. The 2021 NFL Draft has the potential to see a record be broken. The Alabama Crimson Tide have the potential to have the most players selected in the first round of the NFL draft. In the 2004 NFL Draft, the Miami Hurricanes had six of their players selected in the first round. Now, 17 years later, Alabama could have seven of their players selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. All, if not most of the seven players in evaluation, have a first-round grade for the upcoming draft. Here are the seven former Tide players that could be drafted in the first round this year.

2021 NFL First Round Could Feature Record Seven Alabama Players

DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver

No one had a more productive and dominant 2020 season than Devonta Smith. This season, the Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver Smith had 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith has shown to be one of the most reliable receivers in this draft class. He displays the ability to explode off the ball at the line of scrimmage, to run diverse routes, to change direction and has great, reliable hands, and dynamic athleticism. In just one season, Smith went from a player with lower first-round draft potential to a potential prospect for the third overall pick. Smith currently ranks as the fourth-ranked prospect by Scout Inc.’s 2021 Draft Rankings.

Patrick Surtain II, Cornerback

Patrick Surtain II entered the season as one of the efficient man coverage cornerbacks in college football. Throughout the season, Surtain stayed consistent in his main coverages by shutting down some of the nation’s most dynamic receivers. He displayed the ability to consistently turn his hips and stay on his receiver. Surtain is often not targeted during games and is the top-rated defensive back and the seventh overall prospect by Scout Inc.’s 2021 Draft Rankings. In 40 games in his career at Alabama, Surtain has accounted for 116 total tackles, 82 solo tackles, six tackles for loss, 24 pass breakups, and four interceptions. In his senior season, Surtain accounted for 37 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, and an interception.

Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver

But Smith was not the only dominant and dynamic wide receiver for the Crimson Tide this season. Jaylen Waddle has been one of the most dynamic and versatile receivers since he was a freshman in 2018. He has been a slot receiver his entire career as displayed an ability to consistently get open. His hands, quick turn of direction, elite breakout speed, elusive moves, and great hands make him a reliable receiver in the short-to-deep passing game. Waddle caught 106 receptions for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns in his three-year career at Alabama. Although he has played most of his career as a slot receiver, Waddle has the capability and the potential to lineup as the main outside receiver. The Draft Network has the Alabama receiver as the sixth-overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

Christian Barmore, Defensive Tackle

There have been several players whose draft stock has been rising without too much input on the field. Christian Barmore has been a player whose draft stock has been rising since the latter half of the season. Barmore is a huge, athletic defensive tackle who can get into the backfield consistently with elusive moves and brute strength. He is a consistent tackler who can chase the ball carrier in the backfield. This season, Barmore accounted for 37 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. Barmore is the 20th best prospect by Scout Inc.’s 2021 Draft rankings.

Mac Jones, Quarterback

Before the 2020 season, Mac Jones was put under tremendous pressure as the new starting quarterback for Alabama. Jones not only exceeded expectations but he dominated his way to winning the Davey O’Brien Award and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. His ability to consistently air the ball deep, his arm mechanics, and his ability to break down defensive coverages and schemes make him a tough quarterback to beat. Jones passed for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 203.1 quarterback rating on 311 completions (out of 402 passing attempts). He ranks as the fifth-best quarterback and the 25th best overall prospect by CBS Sports.

Najee Harris, Running Back

In the past couple of NFL drafts, the need to draft a running back in the first round has escalated. For several weeks, Najee Harris was a prospect who had second-round potential but has been rising into the first round since the last few weeks of the season. Harris’ on-the-field presence helped create one of the most dynamic offenses in college football history. Despite the focus on the passing game, the Doak Walker Award winner rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns on 251 carries. He displayed patience, toughness,, agility, top breakout speed, and the ability to create yards after first contact. Harris is a tough running back to bring down and has shown remarkable reliability in the passing game.

Alex Leatherwood, Offensive Tackle

Alex Leatherwood, the offensive tackle for the Tide, plays a position many teams want or need to address in this year’s draft. Leatherwood is another long-time starter for the Tide, who originally was Alabama’s starting guard. His toughness, surprising athleticism, ability to contain fast and elusive edge rushers and great punching ability make him a reliable tackle. Due to his versatility as an offensive lineman, Leatherwood can be drafted by a team to play in the interior to solidify the rushing game. He is one of the more aggressive and consistent linemen in the passing and rushing game. The Draft Network has Leatherwood ranked as the 27th overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.

It will be interesting to see how the draft shakes out this year, but it is incredible that the 2021 NFL first round could feature a record seven Alabama players.

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