Five Alabama Players Featured in Latest ESPN Mock Draft
Draft season never sleeps. In his first 2023 mock draft, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller has five Alabama players being selected in the first round. No other school has more than three.
Miller has the New York Jets taking Will Anderson with the No. 1 overall pick. He would be the first Alabama player to be selected with the first pick since Harry Gilmer in 1948 (Joe Namath went No. 1 in the AFL draft in 1965).
“Anderson is the unquestioned top player on my Big Board for next season. At 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, he has shades of Von Miller to his game. He’s not supersized like Joey or Nick Bosa or Chase Young in terms of frame, but his quickness and power getting to the quarterback netted 17.5 sacks and 101 tackles”
In addition to leading the country in sacks, Anderson also ranked first in tackles for loss with 34.5. He’s been a dominant force for the Crimson Tide ever since he stepped on campus in 2020 and the Georgia native is primed for a massive junior campaign in 2022.
Eli Ricks is the first defensive back to come off the board at No. 4 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Ricks, who played two seasons at LSU before transferring to Alabama for the 2022 season, is as good as any cornerback prospect in the past few classes. At 6-foot-1, he has a big frame and a ball-hawk mentality. If he hits the ground running and takes another step in his play after working under Nick Saban at Alabama, a Thorpe Award and top-five pick are possible."
The junior cornerback has been around a number of great coaches in his career. He played under legendary high school coach Bruce Rollinson at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Ca. before transferring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. for his senior season.
He learned from LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond, who has produced a number of first-round picks during his time in Baton Rouge and now he will have the privilege of playing under the guidance of defensive back guru Nick Saban.
The Stroud vs. Young debate will rage on now until the time the draft comes around in April. Miller has the Carolina Panthers selecting Young at No. 7, two spots below Stroud.
“The Panthers passed on taking a quarterback in round one in April and instead drafted Matt Corral in the third round, but they should remain in the hunt for a long-term option at the position. Young, the remaining Heisman trophy winner, doesn’t have prototypical NFL size — he’s listed at 6-foot, 194 pounds — but he plays the position like a point guard with great field vision, touch and anticipation. Size will be the ultimate question for scouts, but Young enters the season in the conversation for QB1.”
Alabama has seen five linebackers drafted in the first round under Saban and Henry To’o To’o could be the sixth. He comes in at No. 20 to the Baltimore Ravens. The rising senior chose to forgo the NFL Draft and return to Tuscaloosa for another season.
“The middle of the Baltimore defense could use a spark, and Alabama’s fast, instinctive To’o To’o could be perfect for that role. At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, he’s a little lean, but his speed and instincts make him a threat in the run and pass games, as seen by his 111 tackles, four sacks and two passes defended during his first season year in the Crimson Tide scheme.”
Miller has the Detroit Lions taking another Alabama wide receiver in the first round, this time it’s Jermaine Burton at No. 28.
“Burton is another transfer who is expected to star in 2022, as the former Georgia wideout could emerge as WR1 for Bryce Young in a pass-first offense at Alabama. He averaged 17 yards per catch and had eight touchdowns over the past two seasons. Watch his output soar for the Crimson Tide. Detroit, meanwhile, could pair Burton with former Bama star Jameson Williams, whom the Lions traded up for in round 1 in April.”