Pro-Comparisons For Every Alabama Player In The NFL Draft
Derrick Henry. Julio Jones. Minkah Fitzpatrick. Tua Tagovailoa. These are just some of the many names that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has coached into the NFL. Alabama football, considered to be “NFL-U” by many, is fresh off of its 18th national championship and with a championship team, comes big name exits to the NFL. And with the Crimson Tide well represented across almost all 32 NFL teams, I took a look at what kind of current, and former NFL players the Alabama to-be-draftees compare to the most.
QB - Mac Jones: Kirk Cousins
Coming off a year in which Jones was a finalist for the Heisman, a lot of scouts are questioning his potential at the next level. While Jones isn’t the new style of quarterback that can make something out of nothing like a Lamar Jackson or a Russell Wilson, he knows how to get the ball out of his hands safely. Jones knows how to make other players make big plays and Kirk Cousins does a lot of the same. Both quarterbacks are 6-foot-3 and are on the leaner side of quarterbacks in today’s NFL. Both QB’s know how to sling it with the best of them but neither is very good in off-script situations.
RB - Najee Harris: Saquon Barkley
Many collegiate programs probably listed Najee Harris as a receiver coming out of high school. The Alabama back broke the Crimson Tide career rushing yard and rushing touchdown records that were held by Derrick Henry. Harris possesses skills that many running backs dream of having. He can run, jump, cut, and his legs never stop moving. Harris and Barkley are practically the same size with Harris being only two inches taller and their run style is almost identical. Whether it’s hurdling a defender, giving him a spin move, or just stiff arming him into the ground, these two guys are some of the most fun backs to watch when in open field. One thing that Harris lacks in is speed but he certainly makes up for it with his leg strength.
WR - DeVonta Smith: Antonio Brown
The Heisman Trophy winner has a lot to prove in the NFL. He was judged as being under-sized coming out of high school and many NFL scouts are saying the same thing coming out of college. But DeVonta Smith makes up for all of that with his route running skills and catching ability. Smith doesn’t have the height to catch a ball that's thrown 25-feet over his head like Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins but his elite route running can give him space down the field like Amari Cooper and Antonio Brown. Brown was never the biggest guy on the field, but like Smith, he’s the one defenses have to worry about the most because of how dangerous they are.
WR - Jaylen Waddle: Cordarrelle Patterson
There’s a reason why Cordarrelle Patterson’s nickname is “Flash”. It’s because he’s faster than just about every player (unless he’s playing against Tyreek Hill) on the football field. Jaylen Waddle’s speed is something that is extremely overlooked due to sharing the field with Henry Ruggs III his sophomore season, but it’s very much there. Like Patterson, Waddle is lethal when returning kickoffs but he has the potential to be a much better receiver. The Bears use Patterson in the backfield in a lot of their formations because he isn’t the greatest pass-catcher but Waddle is arguably the most talented receiver Alabama has. Injuries will play a factor as to where Waddle gets drafted but wherever he goes, he’ll keep many defensive coordinators up at night.
TE - Miller Forristall: Dallas Goedert
Projected to be drafted in the later rounds, Miller Forristall was a quiet talent for the Crimson Tide this year. An average pass-blocker, Forristall possesses many skills similar to Philadelphia Eagles tight-end Dallas Goedert. Both standing 6-foot-5 and roughly 250 pounds, Forristall and Goedert can always be relied upon to pick up a couple crucial catches throughout a football game. Neither are guys that a head coach will work his offense around but both can get the job done whether as a blocker or as a receiver.
OL - Landon Dickerson: Max Unger
Standing 6-foot-6, the Rimington Trophy winner Landon Dickerson was the heart and soul of the Alabama offense. Transferring from Tallahassee to Tuscaloosa, Dickerson is one of the tallest centers in D1 football. With many centers in today’s NFL not being all that tall, I had to look back to Max Unger who recently retired and played for the Seattle Seahawks. Unger was 6-foot-5 and would pancake defensive lineman left and right just like Dickerson did so many times for the Crimson Tide. One thing that hurts Dickerson is that he is injury prone, but if he can stay healthy, he can be a top dog at the highest level.
OL - Alex Leatherwood: Russell Okung
The 2010 sixth-overall pick hasn’t had a spectacular career in the NFL, but he’s gotten the job done for the teams he’s played on. Okung has protected some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL but has been pretty average for the most part. Alex Leatherwood is coming into the draft with as much hype as Okung had and with Leatherwood only being an inch and a pound bigger, I could see them having very similar careers.
DL - Christian Barmore: Warren Sapp
Nearly every time the Alabama defense had pressure on an opposing quarterback this year, Christian Barmore was the one to thank for it. Barmore single-handedly took out Ohio State’s running game in the national championship and was in Justin Fields’ face on nearly every passing play. He reminds me a lot of Warren Sapp in the late 90’s when he would be a one man wrecking crew for the Buccaneers and tally at least thirteen sacks every year.
Barmore has intrigued many NFL scouts towards the end of Alabama’s championship campaign and many believe he’ll be the first defensive tackle taken in this year’s draft. At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, Barmore could step into any defensive lineup and immediately make an impact. Sapp was able to reach double-digit sack numbers in just his third year in the NFL and I believe Barmore can reach that mark even sooner being that he is a little bit taller than Sapp. Barmore is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
LB - Dylan Moses: Lavonte David
Lavonte David has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL over the past ten years. This is due to the fact that he is an anomaly amongst linebackers. David can read a pass like a cornerback but can tackle a ball-carrier like a defensive tackle. In some ways, Dylan Moses looks like a bigger Lavonte David as they are both extremely fast and physical with rare pass-coverage ability and run-defense skills to rack up a lot of tackles. Moses would fit in perfectly in a 3-4 defense as a middle linebacker but can probably play outside-linebacker if needed in a 4-3. If injuries can stay away from Moses, he is the best linebacker in the draft.
CB - Patrick Surtain II: Jason McCourty
Mock drafts have had Surtain as high as third overall, and for good reason. In a day in age where cornerbacks are so hard to come by, drafting Surtain gives you an automatic advantage against an opposing receiver that few corners in the NFL can replicate. Surtain can keep up with just about any route and is known for jumping routes for interceptions when given the chance, similar to Patriots’ corner Jason McCourty. Like McCourty, Surtain struggles with the deep ball and will get beat every once in a while but with that being one of the few flaws in his game, a little bit of coaching can make Surtain nearly impossible to beat.
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