What do Kalen DeBoer’s first round draft picks mean for Alabama?

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / CFP/GettyImages

In addition to Alabama’s trio of first round picks who heard their names called on Thursday night, new coach Kalen DeBoer had two top-10 picks of his own. 

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. went no. 8 to the Atlanta Falcons, while his top receiver Rome Odunze followed at pick no. 9 to the Chicago Bears. For good measure, DeBoer also added offensive lineman Troy Fautanu in the first round, going to the Pittsburgh Steelers at no. 20 overall.

It goes without saying that the Washington Huskies had a dynamic offense under Coach DeBoer, but placing a quarterback-wide receiver combo in the top 10 of the 2024 NFL Draft really solidifies the legitimacy of the product. 

For reference, Alabama never put a quarterback and a receiver in the top 10 of the same draft class under Nick Saban. It only placed a QB and a wideout in the first round on two occasions:

2020: QB Tua Tagovailoa (5th), WR Henry Ruggs (12th), WR Jerry Jeudy (15th)

2021: WR Jaylen Waddle (6th), WR DeVonta Smith (10th), QB Mac Jones (15th)

These two draft classes represent the best 3-year stretch of offensive football in school history (2018-2020). It’s incredibly impressive that Kalen DeBoer, before even coaching a game at Alabama, can put his name in this same conversation in terms of explosiveness on offense. 

Coach DeBoer brings this mentality and offensive scheme to Tuscaloosa, where he should continue to thrive. While there’s no guarantee that Alabama will have a Michael Penix or a Rome Odunze on its 2024 roster, DeBoer will have significantly more talent at his disposal across the board.

In an offense that features talented skill players as well as any, look for quarterback Jalen Milroe to have a breakout season in year two as the starter. Additionally, running backs Justice Haynes and Jam Miller should get heavy usage and plenty of touches in space.

Wide receivers Kobe Prentice and Kendrick Law have shown flashes of potential through two years in Tuscaloosa, while Washington transfer Germie Bernard is already familiar with the system and the offensive coaching staff. Any one of these players could be the next first-round wideout out of Alabama, and would give DeBoer another notch on his belt. 

The future is bright for the Alabama offense under Coach DeBoer and company.