CLEVELAND (WIAT) — After winning the College Football National Championship this past season and claiming multiple major national awards, several former Crimson Tide players are expected to hear their names called during the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday.
On the even of the draft, as many as eight Alabama players could hear their name called in the first 32 picks. But just where will they end up? Depends on which mock draft you look at.
QB Mac Jones
Jones was a first-team All-American selection a season ago, pretty good considering the competition at the position. Few saw how great Jones would play this past season after taking over for Tua Tagovailoa but he flourished in former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s system. Despite being named the best college quarterback last season, he is expected to be the third signal-caller selected Thursday, and that’s if he’s lucky. Mock drafts have Jones going as early as third overall to the San Francisco 49ers or as late as the second round.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has not gotten much love from analysts as far as how early he could be selected despite his phenomenal 2020 season which saw him score 25 total touchdowns, six of which came in the two CFP games. Smith is a projected late-round pick on Thursday but could hear his name called as early as sixth to the Miami Dolphins and reconnect with former teammate Tagovailoa.
The do-it-all running back returned for his senior season and did not disappoint in 2020. He will be most remembered for his incredible hurdles over defenders as well as his contagious smile but also his 30 total touchdowns last season. He could be the next in a line of great running backs from Alabama that get picked up in the first round. Many draft experts have Harris being selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 24 but with several NFL teams in need of a running back who can do it all, Harris could be selected even higher.
Before an injury that would sideline him for a majority of the season, Waddle was seen as the Crimson Tide’s top wideout. That may still be the case in the eyes of professional teams. While Smith has received negative critiques for his slender build, Waddle has boosted up draft boards and could be the second wide receiver taken after LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. He showed great resilience by managing to play in the CFP National Championship game against Ohio State, catching three passes for 34 yards. He could also be selected by the Dolphins but if he isn’t, we don’t expect he’ll be waiting much longer.
Patrick Surtain II
Arguably the best defensive player in the draft this year, Surtain can make an immediate impact on any team that selects him. Teams at the collegiate level rarely tried to throw the ball his way in fear of what play he could make. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he’s bigger than your average NFL cornerback and matches up well with most receivers. Some mock drafts have Surtain going as early as 10th overall to the Dallas Cowboys, but with so many teams in need of offensive help, Surtain could slip until the back end of the round.
Despite only having two seasons of college football under his belt, Barmore is another Alabama star expected to hear his name called in the first round. Barmore has been hailed as the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. The 6-foot-5, 300 pounder possesses speed and power that can plug up gaps and keep offenses from moving the ball. He is expected to be selected anywhere from No. 17 to the Las Vegas Raiders and No. 25 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
From a player with little experience to a player with hundreds of hours of game film to analyze, Leatherwood was rarely absent from the starting lineup in his four years at Tuscaloosa. 48 combined games for the first-team All-American. While other lineman have been projected to go in the top 10, Leatherwood will likely head to a team in the later part of the round, maybe even the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Dickerson did face several injuries during his time in college, he is still a projected first-rounder. His versatility as an interior lineman could be very vital for NFL teams. After coming to Tuscaloosa following his transfer from Florida State, Dickerson has been the anchor in the center position that has kept quarterbacks clean and created holes for some of the best running backs in college football history. Expect him to go in the late stages of the round as well, possibly at No. 29 to the Green Bay Packers.
The Auburn Tigers have seven players declared for the draft, although none of them are expected to go on Day 1. Previous mock drafts have four Tigers expected to go on Days 2 or 3.
Schwartz and his speed made an immediate impact for the Tigers when he joined the team back in 2018. He can beat just about an opponent in a race for the ball but does have a tendency to double-catch. Schwartz is a prime candidate to be drafted somewhere in the second or third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. According to some mock drafts he could be heading to Cleveland, Los Angeles, or New England.
While he puts his height and strong hands to good use, securing the ball once he gets his hands on it. There was buzz at the start of the season of Williams being drafted in the first round, but a heavily stacked receiver class most likely means he won’t hear his name called until Day 2. He could be drafted in the fourth round and go to one of several teams Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, or the Green Bay Packers.
Started as a true freshman and worked his way up to a full-time starting position as a safety in 2020. He logged 75 tackles across 11 games his last year as a Tiger. His game has been described as versatile making him a potential fit for teams that need a strong safety or a weak-side linebacker. Sherwood has been projected to be anywhere from pick No. 139 to pick No. 210.
The recent Auburn grad played four seasons as a linebacker for the Tigers. A strong junior season was supposed to be the start to an even stronger senior season for Britt, but two games in he damaged ligaments in his thumb. That surgery was an early end to his senior season until he was invited to play in Senior Bowl where he was voted as the top linebacker on the American Team. Several mock drafts have Britt heading to the Los Angeles Rams sometime during round 7.
Auburn receiver Eli Stove, and defensive backs Jordyn Peters and Christian Tutt are more likely to end up signed to a team as undrafted free agents after the NFL Draft wraps up.
The first round of the NFL Draft starts on ESPN at 7 p.m. Rounds two and three will start at 6 p.m. on Friday with the remaining four rounds scheduled for Saturday starting at 11 a.m.