There are many NCAA schools riddled with NFL talent on their rosters. Each player has the sparkle in his eye and the hope of hearing his name called in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 27th. The reality is, not everyone can be selected during the seven-round NFL draft. Today, I break down the NFL talent from the University of Alabama.
The Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide have fourteen prospects that have a chance to hear their name called during the 2017 NFL draft. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each player.
Reuben Foster – ILB
Weight: 229 lbs.
Reuben Foster is one of the most complete linebackers in recent memory. He carries an alpha mentality with elite sideline-to-sideline coverage and incredible explosion. While he mostly plays inside, Foster is just as comfortable in coverage.
Last season, Foster recorded 115 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 passes defended against. An important trait that every NFL linebacker needs is his love to create contact and drive opposing players downhill. Reuben Foster absolutely possess this trait.
Instincts really separate Reuben Foster in my opinion. Great speed & power but the guy arrives before plays begin to develop. Crazy FB IQ. pic.twitter.com/NHEBsZBu7B
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) March 31, 2017
Watching Reuben Foster again, he flies around the field. Seems to be going at a whole other speed at times. pic.twitter.com/b4NlryVan1
— Anton Zimanek (@AntonZimanek) March 28, 2017
And it does not stop there. Foster has plenty of moments where he shows that he is the top middle linebacker in this 2017 NFL draft class. Check the tape.
— God (@ChrisGod_) March 27, 2017
One NFC Director of Scouting told NFL.com,
“I think he’s a pure run-and-hit WILL linebacker with good cover talent. I have a higher grade on him than I had on Reggie Ragland. Better pro potential to me.”
Look for Reuben Foster to be selected early in the 1st by the Jacksonville Jaguars (4th overall). The Jaguars have completely revamped their defense and one of the few remaining missing pieces is a middle linebacker who can take control of the defense, emphatically play against the run, and is willing/able to cover in space. Reuben Foster fits that mold to a tee.
Player comparison: Patrick Willis
O.J. Howard – TE
Weight: 251 lbs.
To say O.J. Howard was underutilized at Alabama is an understatement. Howard has the uncanny combination of size, speed, athleticism, and toughness it takes to succeed at the NFL level. He possesses the size to block defensive ends and the speed to threaten the third level of the defense.
While he did not have the production, he absolutely has the potential. Howard is willing to do all of the dirty work that is involved with playing the tight end position. He loves to dominate the run game with his blocking as well as create matchup problems as a receiver.
OJ Howard: true do-it-all TE prospect pic.twitter.com/InhbZieUNX
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) March 27, 2017
We’ll watch the TEs tonight. I love O.J. Howard. Here’s him casually flying across a formation and blocking 15 yards up field. pic.twitter.com/rxWW1vL9qU
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) March 8, 2017
So frustrating watching OJ Howard’s tape. Block, block, block, block, block, block, block, block……….and then stuff like this happens. pic.twitter.com/xwtk21ZqZF
— Jake Anderson (@nfldrafttalker) March 28, 2017
One anonymous scout told Peter Schrager, of GMFB, on NFL Network,
“He is Jimmy Graham if Jimmy Graham enjoyed blocking.”
Because there is no true top 5 receiver in this draft, look for O.J. Howard to be selected right after his teammate, Reuben Foster, by the Tennessee Titans (5th overall). While Delanie Walker is still the top asset on this offense, he is steadily climbing the age ladder. The addition of Howard would do wonders for this offense and Mariota for years to come.
Player comparison: Better blocking Jimmy Graham
Jonathan Allen – DT
Weight: 286 lbs.
Last season, Jonathan Allen recorded an astounding 16 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 passes batted down, and 3 fumble recoveries. The big man loves to play around the football. He also won the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Award (the nation’s top defender on the nation’s top defense).
Most scouts see Allen as having Pro Bowl potential. One anonymous NFC director of player personnel told NFL.com,
“He’s a really talented pass rusher but he’s always been surrounded by enough talent that it’s been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him. He’s skilled and very fundamentally sound but I just worry about his size and how he holds up to NFL running games.”
Allen is able to line up on the interior and along the edge of the defensive line without sacrificing production. He has tremendous athletic ability and uses his play strength and quickness to overpower interior lineman.
Jonathan Allen. Wow. pic.twitter.com/KdmOHjd7cx
— Dominic Gugliotta (@domgoogs24) March 29, 2017
Finishing up some other Bama defenders…can’t help but notice J Allen. pic.twitter.com/Vozs1hOEW0
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 25, 2017
With the loss of defensive anchor Calais Campbell to the Jaguars in the offseason, look for the Arizona Cardinals to select Jonathan Allen early/middle of the 1st round (13th overall). The Cardinals know every good NFL defense begins along the trenches.
Player comparison: Sheldon Richardson
The Other Crimson Tide
Cam Robinson (OT) – Late 1st round (26th overall) – Seattle Seahawks
Ryan Anderson (DE) – Early 2nd (36th overall) – Chicago Bears
Marlon Humphrey (CB) – Late 2nd round (60th overall) – Dallas Cowboys
Tim Williams (OLB) – Late 2nd round (62nd overall) – Pittsburgh Steelers
Dalvin Tomlinson (DT) – Mid 3rd (79th overall) – Minnesota Vikings
Eddie Jackson (SS) – Early 4th round (116th overall) – Cincinnati Bengals
ArDarius Stewart (WR) – Early 5th round (147th overall) – Chicago Bears
Gehrig Dieter (WR) – Undrafted
Dakota Ball (FB) – Undrafted
Cole Mazza (LS) – Undrafted
Adam Griffith (K) – Undrafted