Alabama Wide Receiver Corps: Search for a No. 1

AUBURN, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 27: Ja'Corey Brooks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUBURN, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 27: Ja'Corey Brooks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The struggles for Alabama at the Wide Receiver position have been widely documented all season. The group as a whole is young, struggles with consistency, and has issues creating separation against elite defenses. As of today, the Alabama Crimson Tide did not have a single receiver in the top 15 in the SEC when it comes to yardage. There is no one on the team with over 30 receptions, and the overall leading receiver on the team is running back Jahmyr Gibbs!

Is this the same university that produced the likes of Julio Jones, DeVonta Smith, and Amari Cooper? I thought Bill O’Brien ran a pro-style offense that liked to sling the ball over the field. If everything you just read is causing you to panic, relax! There may be some answers coming, and what could be perceived as a weakness is actually a strength.

Results are Baked into the Scheme

NFL offenses are extremely complex in the way that they create explosive matchups in the passing game. Quarterbacks are consistently asked to go through multiple reads before delivering a ball to their receiver. Oftentimes the best play in an NFL offense is to check the ball down to the running back if the defense drops eight into coverage. Bryce Young was built in a lab for the offense that O’Brien runs. He is poised in the pocket and is excellent scanning the field to find the best option. He also rarely forces a ball into coverage, as evidenced by the fact that he’s only thrown 3 INTs all season. Young’s ability to operate more like a point guard than a quarterback is what makes this offense go. Would you like for an Alabama receiver to lead the league in receiving yards, sure! But the fact that 19 Alabama players have caught a ball this year is a pretty encouraging stat.

Help is on the Way for Alabama

The receiver corps as a whole is starting to gel, and everyone is starting to find their role. Yes, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle were great players who had explosive tenures in Tuscaloosa, but they thrived because they were complimentary of each other. Waddle was able to stretch defenses downfield, which allowed Smith to work underneath routes and crossers without defenses being able to double cover him. Throw in the shiftiness of Slade Bolden in the slot and a young John Metchie as a dependable possession receiver and the Tide had a full arsenal of weapons.

Will the Tide's experience in close games make a difference?. dark. Next

The 2022 version of the Tide is starting to identify these roles as well. Ja’Corey Brooks is developing as a downfield weapon, currently averaging almost 18 yards per catch, good for 6th best in the conference. Freshman Kobe Prentice leads all Alabama Wide Receivers with 28 catches out of the slot, and at 6’3″ 215 Traeshon Holden is starting to realize his potential as that big-bodied safety blanket for Young when things break down. Throw in a newly recovered JoJo Earle, and Tyler Harrell, and the best days are ahead for this young wide receiver corps.