This won’t be the last Nick Saban class to be drafted into the NFL out of Alabama, but it will be the final class that finished its career with the seven-time national champion on the sidelines. It’s no surprise that Saban could produce another five first-round picks in his final year.
With multiple underclassmen leaving for the league early, the Crimson Tide weren’t too well represented at the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Bowl. Despite the top talent not attending, Alabama did have Chris Braswell, Justin Eboigbe, and Will Reichard in Mobile and Trezmen Marshall and Jaylen Key in Frisco.
Those week-long job interviews were just the start of the NFL draft process, but they’re a crucial piece and can greatly impact the draft stock of those in attendance. So, let’s check in with the Alabama draft class a week removed from the pre-draft all-star games.
There was a riser in Mobile coming for Arnold’s crown as CB1 in the 2024 NFL draft. Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo may have been the best player in attendance, but Arnold will still likely be the top defensive back drafted.
The Vikings play a unique style of defense with Brian Flores, blitzing as much as any team and to maintain that aggressiveness, Flores will need corners who can hold up on an island. Arnold will be a perfect fit in Minnesota.
In a typical year, Dallas Turner would have a case as a top five pick and even at 16 he could be the highest drafted edge rusher. However, this draft is loaded with offensive talent at wide receiver and offensive tackle, along with a group of four or five quarterbacks who could be selected before a single defensive player.
If Turner does slide this far, he’ll be a perfect fit on Mike MacDonald’s defense. Jadeveon Clowney found a perfect home in Baltimore this year and with Turner’s length and athleticism, MacDonald could use him in the same role.
Turner finished 2023 with 55 total pressures and an elite 19.6% pass rush win rate.
While Mitchell may not overtake Arnold as CB1, it feels like he’ll pass McKinstry, despite his elite 2023 season in coverage. McKinstry allowed a lower reception percentage and fewer yards in coverage than Arnold but had just four pass breakups and no interceptions to Arnold’s 13 breakups and five picks.
So, is Arnold getting targeted more because Mckinstry is the better corner, or is Arnold just better at playing the ball? It feels like the consensus is Arnold over McKinstry, but the Eagles will be happy to get either one after their secondary crumbled last season.
JC Latham allowed 14 pressures in 443 pass-blocking snaps last season. He was the much better pass blocker than Kadyn Proctor who played left tackle for the Crimson Tide and has since transferred to Iowa.
The Packers have a franchise quarterback in Jordan Love and seem to have hit on their young receivers, so it’s time to protect their investment with a first-round offensive tackle. David Bakhtiari only played one game last season, so Green Bay needs a long-term answer at left tackle.
The 49ers traded a 3rd round pick to the Washington Commanders for Chase Young in the middle of the year, but after Young’s underwhelming performance, they’ll be looking for another option to play opposite of Nick Bosa.
Chris Braswell finished with one more pressure than Dallas Turner this season but was far less efficient with his pass-rushing snaps.
Braswell certainly helped his case as a first-rounder in Mobile with plays like this:
Jermaine Burton’s growth as Alabama’s No. 1 receiver may have saved Nick Saban’s final year. Burton dominated Texas A&M and became Jalen Milroe’s favorite target. He isn’t the caliber of past Alabama WR1s, but he’s still a quality outside option with speed to stretch the field.
In 2022, Burton caught 40 passes for a team-high 677 yards and seven touchdowns from Bryce Young. Carolina may try to reunite Young with one of his favorite targets for Year 2.
Eboigbe didn’t quite standout at the Senior Bowl like Braswell did, but he showcased some pass-rushing ability.
However, Eboigbe didn’t get to the quarterback nearly enough in his final year at Alabama. He posted just 30 pressures in 370 pass rush snaps with a pedestrian 7.9% pass rush win rate. Arizona can use defensive line help, so they’ll take a third-round swing.
Specialists are getting drafted more and more. NIL might be to blame for the increase of kickers and punters in the draft. More Day 3 underclassmen are staying in college, so a player like Reichard will become a hot commodity in the later rounds.
Key and Trezmen Marshall didn’t exactly shine at the Shrine Bowl. It doesn’t appear they impacted their draft stock much, so both will be Day 3 guys. The Raiders are a good fit for Key because of the roster’s weakness in the secondary.
The Georgia transfer played 386 defensive snaps for the Crimson Tide in 2023 but didn’t have a huge impact. He finished with just 37 tackles and two sacks and struggled mightily in coverage. However, if Kirby Smart and Nick Saban both took a chance on him, then maybe Les Snead and Sean McVay will with one of their seven picks on Day 3 of the draft.