CLEVELAND, Ohio – Thursday night was a great night for Crimson Tide players who had declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Eight players declared for the draft and six were drafted in Round One. Alabama tied the NFL record with six players chosen in the opening round. Miami, Fla., had six in 2004.
Receiver Jaylen Waddle reunited with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Receiver Jaylen Waddle is headed to Miami to provide a target for his former Alabama teammate, Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins selected Waddle with the sixth overall pick Thursday night, choosing him over another Alabama receiver, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. It’s the highest Miami has ever taken a receiver. Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall draft pick in 2020, became Miami’s No. 1 QB in Week 8 and went 6-3 as the starter, but coach Brian Flores benched him in two games. The speedy, 5-foot-9, 180-pound Waddle played in only six games last season because of a broken left ankle.
Surprise: Broncos pick DB Patrick Surtain II in Round 1
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos bypassed quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones and selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth pick of the NFL draft Thursday night.
Instead of grabbing a quarterback to counter Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr in the stacked AFC West, new general manager George Paton picked a cornerback who can help curtail those passers.
Surtain is the second consecutive Alabama alum selected in the first round by the Broncos, who drafted wide receiver Jerry Jeudy with the 15th overall pick last year.
Picking a defender leaves a QB room of incumbent Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater. On Wednesday, Paton sent a 2021 sixth-round pick to Carolina for Bridgewater, who was 4-11 last year with the Panthers. Lock was 4-9 in Denver.
Quarterback has been the Broncos’ biggest bugaboo since winning Super Bowl 50 in Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s farewell game — they haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
The Panthers, who are paying $7 million of the $10 million Bridgewater is due in 2021, are restructuring his deal to facilitate the trade that is expected to be finalized by Saturday.
Paton has rebuilt Denver’s secondary this offseason, signing free agent cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby and re-signing safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons, who was franchised for a second consecutive year.
Eagles select Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith at No. 10
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles nave selected Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith after trading up two spots to No. 10 in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night. The Alabama wide receiver reunites with former teammate Jalen Hurts, who replaced Carson Wentz at quarterback for the Eagles last season. Smith had 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior. He was the first receiver to win the Heisman in 29 years. The Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, one pick ahead of wideout Justin Jefferson. They haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Patriots wait, draft former Alabama QB Mac Jones at No. 15
BOSTON (AP) — The New England Patriots have selected former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the No. 15 pick of the NFL draft, their biggest move to date to bring in a player to possibly be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady. Jones becomes the first quarterback selected in the first round during Bill Belichick’s 21-year tenure in New England. Jones earned the Davey O’Brien Award in 2020 as the top quarterback in college football. He’s coming off a season that saw him lead Alabama to a national title while completing an NCAA-record 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Raiders take Alabama OL Alex Leatherwood with 17th pick
The Las Vegas Raiders drafted Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick as they look to rebuild an offensive line that the team dismantled at the start of the league year. The addition of Leatherwood gives coach Jon Gruden a possible starter at right tackle to replace Trent Brown, who was traded to New England last month for a 2022 draft pick. The Raiders also dealt away two more expensive veterans for mid-round draft picks by trading center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson as the team aimed to get younger and cheaper on the line.
Steelers turn to Alabama star Harris to jump-start run game
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers are turning to Alabama star Najee Harris to give their running game a jolt. The Steelers selected Harris with the 24th overall pick in the NFL draft. They hope he can help a rushing attack that finished dead last in the NFL in yards rushing in 2020. Pittsburgh is looking to maximize whatever time left it has with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The 39-year-old restructured his contract to ensure he would be back for an 18th season. Harris provided the opportunity to grab a player who could make an immediate impact.
Friday night saw the remaining two Alabama players be drafted very quickly:
Eagles take Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson at 37
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles took another Alabama player, selecting offensive lineman Landon Dickerson in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday night. The Eagles traded up to draft Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith at No. 10 overall in the first round. They stayed put to chose Dickerson at No. 37. The 6-foot-5, 333-pound Dickerson is a versatile lineman who is coming off a torn ACL in the SEC championship game in December. Dickerson was projected as late first-round pick before his injury. He provides insurance behind three-time All-Pro center Jason Kelce and depth at the guard sports.
Patriots trade up in 2nd round, select Barmore from Alabama
BOSTON (AP) — The New England Patriots traded up eight spots in the second round to select former Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore with the 38th pick of the NFL draft. The Patriots swapped their second-round pick and two fourth rounders to Cincinnati for the shot to grab Barmore. Barmore played two seasons for the national champion Crimson Tide before declaring for the NFL draft and forgoing his final two college seasons. New England is looking to build its defense as it attempts to retool following a disappointing season.