The Alabama Crimson Tide set a new record with 12 players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Four former Alabama stars – defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, linebacker Rashaan Evans, and receiver Calvin Ridley – were first-round picks. Overall, eight defensive players, three offensive players and punter JK Scott all heard their names called during the seven-round draft.
As a result, the defending national champions have a dozen very big holes to fill on the roster. Of course, given the history of success head coach Nick Saban and his staff have had on the recruiting trail, a bevy of talented players are ready to take their place. And many returnees will soon be hotshot pro prospects themselves.
Here’s an early look at potential Alabama players (in alphabetical order) who could get drafted in 2019.
Raekwon Davis, DL (Jr., 6-7, 308)
The next great Alabama defensive line prospect is Davis, who despite making only six career starts in his first two seasons on campus has made a big impact on the Tide’s success during that time.
Davis has the size and strength to play on the interior defensive line, but he also has the speed and athleticism to play on the edge. The junior used that unique blend of talent to record 69 total tackles last season, including 10 tackles for a loss and a team-high 8.5 sacks. Despite just a part-time starting role for the Crimson Tide last year, the highly productive Davis was a first-team All-SEC pick by the league’s coaches.
Damien Harris, RB (Sr., 5-11, 213)
Had he chosen to leave school following his junior season, Harris (above, right) would likely have pushed Alabama’s record-setting draft class to 13. After all, Bo Scarbrough, who has served as Harris’ backup for most of the last two seasons, was a seventh-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys.
Harris has led the Crimson Tide in rushing in each of the last two seasons, topping 1,000 yards each time, blending both power and speed for success. There is still plenty of tread on the tires as well for Harris. He carried the ball just 135 times in 2017, but averaged an explosive 7.4 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns.
Anfernee Jennings, LB (Jr., 6-3, 262)
NFL teams are obsessed with playmaking pass rushers, and Jennings fits the mold. As a sophomore, Jennings saw action in 11 games – all starts – and recorded 41 total tackles, including six tackles for a loss. Though he had only one sack, Jennings was credited with four QB hurries, which ranked fourth on the team behind first-round picks Da’Ron Payne and Rashaan Evans, and fellow pro prospect Isaiah Buggs He also was responsible for two forced fumbles, which led the team.
Jennings has first-round talent, and is the early favorite to be the highest selected Alabama player in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, he will need to stay healthy. Jennings hurt his ankle in the season opener against Florida State, which cost him two games, and later suffered a season-ending knee injury against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Christian Miller, LB (Sr., 6-4, 244)
The Alabama linebacker corps is arguably the deepest and most talented unit on the team, and part of the reason for that is the experience gained as a result of injuries in 2017. In addition to Jennings and fellow rising junior Mack Wilson, who also would be a highly regarded pro prospect if he chooses to leave early, the underrated Miller has a future playing on Sundays.
Like Jennings and Wilson, Miller was sidelined for several games last season. Miller suffered an arm injury in the season opener against Florida State and didn’t return to the lineup until the Iron Bowl. Though he didn’t light up the stat sheet against Auburn or Clemson, Miller recorded a sack against Georgia in the national championship game. He finished the year with six total tackles, two tackles for a loss and one sack in four games, but is capable of putting together a huge senior season.
Jonah Williams, OL (Jr., 6-5, 305)
Several Alabama offensive linemen could be in line for selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Senior Lester Cotton, a highly recruited guard with 18 career starts under his belt, would provide value in the draft, as would the versatile Ross Pierschabacher, who has made 43 starts in three seasons in Tuscaloosa, is a two-time All-SEC selection, and is consistently one of the highest-graded linemen on the roster.
However, the biggest upside belongs to Williams, a Freshman All-SEC selection in 2016 who earned all-conference recognition last season. Williams has started all 29 games he has played for the Tide and has shown the ability to line up at both right and left tackle.
— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.