ESPN Projects Six Alabama Players in First Round of 2023 Draft
Alabama is a known as a program that doesn’t rebuild, but rather reloads, and this season is no different. In an early 2023 mock draft, ESPN analyst Todd McShay has six Alabama players going in the first round. Six would match the 2021 draft for the most first-round selections of the Nick Saban era.
Bryce Young is the first Crimson Tide player off the board, going No. 2 to the Detroit Lions behind Ohio State’s CJ Stroud. The pick would reunite him with Jameson Williams, who was selected with No. 12 overall pick in last month’s draft. In his first season under center, Young set the Alabama single-season record for passing yards (4,872) and touchdowns (47) and became the first quarterback in school history to win the Heisman trophy.
From his innate leadership qualities to natural arm talent, Young has franchise quarterback written all over him. His quick throwing motion and overall feel for the pocket is reminiscent of Aaron Rodgers. Young throws the ball with incredible touch and anticipation that elevates those around him.
The New York Jets would be getting the top player in the draft with Will Anderson at No. 3. The 2021 unanimous All-American is a relentless force coming off the edge, he led the country in sacks (17.5) and tackles for loss (34.5). Pairing him with Jermaine Johnson could form one of the most devastating pass rushing duos in the NFL for years to come.
Next, Eli Ricks appears at No. 10 to the Washington Commanders. The Rancho Cucamonga, Ca. native would the ninth defensive back selected in the first round of the Nick Saban era. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Ricks is a big, physical corner with superb ball skills. As a freshman in 2020, Ricks intercepted four passes, which earned from third-team All-American honors.
Linebacker Henry To'o To'o elected to return to school for his senior year, and is the third player off the board in McShay's mock. Viewed as a potential day two prospect in the 2022 draft by some, To'o To'o actually comes in at No. 24 to the Dallas Cowboys. This past season he amassed a team-high 113 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, four sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble, earning second-team All-SEC honors.
Jahmyr Gibbs is the second Alabama transfer that could hear his name called in the first round come next years draft. McShay has the junior running back going No. 27 to the Miami Dolphins. Tide fans got a small glimpse of what Gibbs can do when he exploded for a 73-yard touchdown on A-Day.
“Gibbs was a hidden gem at Georgia Tech, and now I expect him to explode onto the national stage after transferring to Alabama,” McShay said. “His pass-catching ability out of the backfield will get him a lot of attention.”
Finally, Emil Ekiyor Jr. is a veteran guard with 29 career starts under his belt, and McShay has Green Bay taking the experienced lineman at No. 29.
Brian Branch, Malachi Moore, Jermaine Burton and Jordan Battle are all names that could garner first round attention as the season progresses.
One thing is for certain, Alabama will see a surplus of players drafted in the first couple of rounds in next year's NFL draft.