Alabama Football: The highs & lows of the class of 2021

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama Football has landed one loaded recruiting class after another. Some hauls have panned out better than others, but the class of 2021 is particularly interesting.

The program has experienced a slight uptick in “misses” over the past few years, perhaps due in part to a lack of in-person scouting during the pandemic. While Saban and his staff have been critiqued for misevaluations, particularly at the wide receiver position, there are several uncontrollable factors that go into whether or not a high school football star develops into an NFL-ready player.

The class of 2021 had some of these misses, but it also hit plenty of home runs. 

Alabama Football: Fast track to the pros

As far as top-end talent and upside, this could be considered one of Coach Saban’s best recruiting classes ever. The Crimson Tide are expected to place four underclassmen in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft in offensive tackle JC Latham, edge rusher Dallas Turner, and cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold. 

As far as I can tell, Alabama has only done this one other time under Coach Saban. The 2017 class produced a quartet of first-round juniors in the 2020 Draft in Tua Tagovailoa, Jedrick Wills, Henry Ruggs, and Jerry Jeudy. Incredibly, this class also produced four more first-round picks the following year in seniors Devonta Smith, Mac Jones, Alex Leatherwood, and Najee Harris. 

Several classes under Coach Saban have produced three first-round picks after three years:

Class of 2008 (2011 NFL Draft): Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, and Mark Ingram

Class of 2015 (2018 NFL Draft): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DaRon Payne, Calvin Ridley

Class of 2016 (2019 NFL Draft): Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams, Josh Jacobs