Alabama Football: Receivers and DBs to play critical role in 2023

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) /

Alabama Football needs effort and execution from its entire roster to return to the college football mountaintop in 2023, but the performance of a couple position groups in particular will be critical.

Bama’s wide receiver room and secondary both look good on paper, but their play on the field is what will determine whether or not they win a championship.

When John Metchie and Jameson Williams went down in the 2021 postseason, the young receivers for Alabama Football struggled to perform consistently and dropped way too many passes. As a result, the losses of Metchie and Williams handicapped the Crimson Tide offense and ultimately cost Bama a national title.

To the dismay of the fan base, these struggles continued into 2022. Despite having a full offseason of preparation under their belts, Alabama’s receivers remained plagued by drops and other concentration-related mistakes. The group had talent, but no one individual looked ready to take command in a leadership role.

This fall, Alabama will return many of its pass-catchers from last season, but the group must show significant improvement. The belief is that JUCO transfer Malik Benson has the skill set and the mentality to be the alpha in the room.

Still, returnees such as senior Jermaine Burton, junior Ja’Corey Brooks, and sophomore Isaiah Bond will play critical roles in the offense and must be reliable. Alabama cannot afford for these receivers to drop a lot of easy passes.

To further emphasize the importance of the receiver play, it is still unknown who will start at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Regardless of who wins the job, Bama’s QB will be a largely unproven commodity who has yet to start more than a handful of games in his career.

Ideally, either Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson, or Tyler Buchner will surprise everyone and develop into a star in 2023. However, we must assume for the moment that the Alabama quarterbacks will need all the help they can get.

Alabama Football: Secondary will be tested

The Alabama defensive backs will be equally crucial to the team’s success this year. The Crimson Tide boasts a largely new-look secondary led by junior cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry and senior safety Malachi Moore. It welcomes in a star-studded group of newcomers that includes freshman safety Caleb Downs, transfer safety Jaylen Key, and transfer corner Trey Amos.

With so many new faces and a lot of versatile pieces, there are question marks regarding how the secondary depth chart will shake out. One way or another, this group has to find a way to perform consistently. The secondary looked vulnerable at times last year, and Alabama Football plays some of the best passing offenses in college football in 2023.

It will face Texas early in the season, with quarterback Quinn Ewers getting another crack at the Bama defense. The Longhorns’ receiving corps is considered one of the best in the nation, and includes playmaking wide receivers such as Xavier Worthy, Jordan Whittington, and Isaiah Neyor. It also features athletic tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, and welcomes in Georgia transfer AD Mitchell and 5-star recruit Johntay Cook on the perimeter.

This early test will tell us a lot about the young secondary for Alabama Football. In conference play, Bama will face teams such as Tennessee, LSU, and Texas A&M, all of whom have top-10 receiving corps according to On3.

Should the Crimson Tide reach the SEC title game, it will likely play Georgia. The Bulldogs will have a new quarterback as well, but return a lot of talent at wide receiver in addition to the best collection of tight ends in the sport.

If Alabama can run this gauntlet and make it to the College Football Playoff, it can expect to run into explosive passing offenses such as USC or Ohio State.

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Every position group on the Alabama Football roster must perform at a high level this season, but the receivers and the DBs will both be huge determining factors to the team’s success.