Will Anderson Jr. has been dominant in his first two seasons at Alabama, and the Crimson Tide star finished fifth in last season’s Heisman Trophy voting. The spectacular begin to his collegiate profession got us pondering, where does Anderson rank without delay amongst draft prospect from Alabama through the Nick Saban era, which began in 2007.
Below you will find my top 10 list, including an honorable mention.
Vital to recollect here: That is how these players were universally viewed as prospects, factoring in off-field and maturity issues. Their NFL careers had no bearing on these rankings. Let’s go!
Honorable Mention: Patrick Surtain II, CB (2021)
With NFL bloodlines by the use of his father with the identical namesake, from the jump, Surtain was almost universally viewed as ready for an outdoor cornerback role on the skilled ranks. Now, there have been a number of lapses downfield in coverage, when he couldn’t find the football and it led to big plays for the opposition. But every part else, from size to sharp technique in all phases to effortless speed and three years of quality production within the SEC, Surtain was widely thought to be one among the safest cornerbacks to enter the league from Alabama through the Saban era.
10. Mark Barron, S (2012)
A late riser through the 2012 pre-draft process, it ultimately got out that Barron was the quarterback of Saban’s defense, quite the stamp of approval for a prospect. That revelation sparked the security’s meteoric rise to No. 7 overall within the 2012 draft, ahead of two future Defensive Players of the Yr (!) Luke Kuechly and Stephon Gilmore. Barron averaged right around 70 tackles and 4 interceptions per 12 months in his final three seasons in Saban’s defense. While he fell wanting staggeringly lofty expectations within the NFL, Barron did have an adequate, nine-year playing profession and was one heck of a security prospect.
9. Quinnen Williams, DT (2019)
Had we seen more of Williams for the Crimson Tide, he probably would’ve been higher on this list, because his lone season as a full-time starter in Saban’s defense was unlike any we have seen from the long line of dominant defensive linemen at Alabama. Seriously. In 2018, Williams registered 56 pressures on 344 pass-rushing snaps, which equates to an ungodly 16.2% pressure-generation rate. Williams was a wall against the run, too, totaling a ridiculous 19.5 tackles for loss in his final college season. The “one-year wonder” label was the one negative on Williams’ draft profile.
8. Rolando McClain, LB (2010)
McClain’s freshman season coincided with Saban’s first in Tuscaloosa, and McClain soared with the Crimson Tide’s latest, defensive mastermind roaming the sidelines. His statistics improved in each of his three seasons, and McClain’s grasp of Saban’s pro-style defense — yes, that is a thing too! — generated rave reviews amongst analysts and NFL decision-makers through the 2010 draft cycle. Also, McClain looked the a part of a classic middle linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 249 kilos, a frame then viewed as ideal for a second-level defender. McClain’s NFL profession was a wild, roller coaster ride, which began with disappointment in Oakland, a retirement before his twenty third birthday, then finished with a resurgence with the Cowboys after a 12 months away from football. Before Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley, there was McClain because the gold standard of Alabama linebacker prospects within the twenty first century.
7. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB (2018)
Fitzpatrick was the do-everything safety who was becoming popular within the NFL after the 2017 season. As a five-star recruit, he was expected to have a blinding profession at Alabama, and did with nine interceptions — 4 of which were returned for touchdowns — to go together with 24 pass breakups and a grand total of 19.5 tackles for loss across three seasons with the Crimson Tide. There was some debate about Fitzpatrick’s position within the NFL — was he a security or corner? — which might be why he wasn’t a top 10 selection. But there have been no qualms about him being picked by the Dolphins at No. 11 overall. All he’s done up to now within the NFL is land on the All-Pro first team twice in 4 seasons.
6. Probability Warmack, OG (2013)
Regarding Warmack in a Slack conversation on this topic, CBS Sports senior editorial director Adi Joseph chimed in with “thought he’d be what Quenton Nelson is” and that absolutely encapsulates how nearly everyone viewed Warmack within the 2013 draft process. After all, Nelson got here after Warmack, but you get what I mean. Warmack was considered an elite, offensive line changing guard prospect who emphatically checked every box for the position. He went tenth overall to the Titans but never became that Nelson-esque perennial All Pro.
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5. Marcell Dareus, DT (2011)
Two years of Dareus is all of the NFL needed to see to have him land at No. 3 overall in probably the most incredible first rounds we have seen in league history. After Cam Newton and Von Miller went to start the 2011 draft, the Bills called within the Dareus pick immediately. And it was viewed without criticism. In any respect. He had 20 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a 6-3, 320-pound defensive tackle at Alabama. His most famous play got here within the national title win against Texas as a sophomore when he intercepted a pass and ran it 28 yards for a touchdown, which showcased elite mobility for his size. Once a first-team All Pro, Dareus never quite met expectations in Buffalo or Jacksonville but was a seen as a high-floor, high-ceiling defensive tackle prospect.
4. Trent Richardson, RB (2012)
Richardson became the last word cautionary tale for the number of a running back (early) in the primary round, but let me let you know, back in 2012, in a draft class with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the consensus opinion was that the Browns were making the correct selection picking the rugged, super-productive Richardson at No. 3 overall. In three seasons at Alabama, Richardson averaged 5.8 yards per carry, scored 21 touchdowns in his final season and had back-to-back seasons through which he averaged over 11 yards per reception. He was thick within the lower half, chiseled up top and ran away from SEC defenders frequently. Ignore Richardson being a colossal flop within the NFL. He was a spectacular prospect.
3. Amari Cooper, WR (2015)
Cooper was probably the most squeaky clean receiver prospects — not only from Alabama — we have seen in a protracted time. With out a first-round caliber quarterback throwing him within the football, Cooper went over 1,000 yards twice in run-prominent offenses with the Tide. His release package — beating press at the road — was NFL veteran-caliber. He ran crisp, sudden routes, had 4.42 speed and was so incredibly young for a player together with his level of production. He went No. 4 overall within the 2015 class. Cooper didn’t turn 21 until the summer before his rookie season and has been one among the league’s most technically sound wideouts since his rookie campaign.
2. Will Anderson Jr., EDGE (2023)
I see Khalil Mack while watching Anderson, the No. 1 weakside defensive end recruit within the country in the highschool class of 2020. There’s Cornelius Bennett-esque hype for Anderson because he hit the bottom running as a 19-year-old true freshman on Saban’s defense with seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Then, he built on that season. In 2021, Anderson had 82 total pressures on 482 pass-rushing snaps, good a 17% pressure-creation rate, absurd given the amount at which he rushed the passer. Anderson looks like an NFL defensive end on film with quality strength, length and pass-rushing moves, plus he routinely sets a sturdy edge against the run and hustles on those plays, too, as evidenced by his 31 tackles for loss (!) last season. With a powerful junior 12 months, Anderson will likely ascend to No. 1 on this list.
1. Julio Jones, WR (2011)
Jones was one among the primary enormous recruits Saban landed at Alabama, and this was a recruit who hit. As a freshman in 2008, he had over 900 yards with John Parker-Wilson as his quarterback during a season when Glen Coffee had 1,300-plus yards and Mark Ingram went for over 700 on the bottom. There was a minor dip in his sophomore campaign before an eruption as a real junior, when Jones collected 1,133 receiving yards on a still run-heavy offense that featured Mark Ingram, Richardson, and Eddie Lacy. Then the mix happened, and Jones blew the roof off Lucas Oil Stadium. He measured in at a strapping 6-3 and 220 kilos, ran 4.34 with a 38.5-inch vertical and an had obscene 6.66 time within the three-cone drill. All that precipitated the Falcons to maneuver all the way in which from No. 27 overall to No. 6 overall in a trade with the Browns to draft Jones. He has met or exceeded the hype in all stages of his football-playing profession. Julio is one of the best Alabama draft prospect within the Nick Saban era.