Which Alabama Crimson Tide players will have big rookie seasons in the NFL?

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For the lofty standards of Alabama Crimson Tide football, seeing only seven players drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft is a bit underwhelming.

Only two players – OT Evan Neal and WR Jameson Williams – were taken in the first round. Five more players were taken in the second, third, and fourth rounds. Five more signed undrafted free agent deals in the weeks after the draft.

Despite only seeing 12 players make the jump to the NFL this offseason, there undoubtedly be some Alabama Crimson Tide rookies who make an immediate impact at the next level.

Here are just 3 to keep a close eye on this fall.

WR John Metchie with the Houston Texans

The two, star wideouts that helped quarterback Bryce Young win the Heisman Trophy both landed with struggling teams. Both John Metchie III and Jameson Williams suffered torn ACLs in the SEC Championship game and title game.

This caused them to slip a bit on most scouts’ draft boards. Williams went 12th to the Detriot Lions while Metchie fell to 44th and the Houston Texans.

Though Williams was far and away the leading man for the Crimson Tide in ’21, he could struggle with QB Jared Goff doing little to prove he is worthy of a starting role in the league. Though Metchie will be working with Davis Mills – who is not much better – he has all the intangibles you want to see from a rookie wide receiver.

Why Metchie will succeed as a rookie

He is a wonderful route-runner who consistently got open when facing man coverage. In fact, Metchie led the SEC in targets against single coverage with a step or more of separation over the past two seasons.

Over the course of 30 games at Alabama, Metchie totaled 155 receptions for 2,081 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Outside of Brandin Cooks and maybe Phillip Dorsett, Metchie is guaranteed to play a big role in an offense that has little in terms of talent.

Why Metchie will struggle as a rookie

The ACL injury from December remains a concern. Especially for a wide receiver of Metchie’s stature.

The expectation is for Metchie to be ready by the time training camp starts next month, but will the recovery process and missing rookie camp drills hinder his transition to the next level?

What causes me the most concern, however, is not Metchie’s long-term health or ability in the immediate future. It’s Davis Mills at quarterback and the Texans coaching staff.

A wide receiver is only as good as the quarterback throwing the ball. Mills was thrust into the starting job last season amid the Deshaun Watson off-field fiasco and was just about what everyone expected: underwhelming.