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NFL Combine Prospect Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

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By: Caleb_Yaccarino

Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alabama is once again sending a talented draft class to the NFL.

In 2023/2024, Alabama football had a bounce-back year, evident by the talent on their roster. The Crimson Tide were successful because of their stifling defense and dynamic offense, filled with top prospects at all positions.

Alabama had ten players invited to the NFL Combine, and many of them could be targeted by the New Orleans Saints in this year’s draft.

Dallas Turner – Defensive end/outside linebacker

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama
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Dallas Turner is an unbelievably talented defensive player and was one of the pillars on the 2023/2024 Alabama football roster. Turner is slated to participate in all parts of the NFL Combine and can improve his draft stock even more.

In his Junior year, Turner put up 28 solo tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. These are elite edge rushing numbers, and Turner has the talent to repeat these numbers in the NFL.

At pick 14, the Saints could be able to draft Turner, and they should. Although Turner isn’t exactly the Saints’ mold at edge rusher, it has been said that the team is looking to be more open to edge rushers outside of said mold. Dallas Turner checks all the boxes that the Saints need: he is fast, has pass-rush moves, has statistically proven his ability in college, and was a team captain for Alabama.

Pre-combine pick projection: Top 10

J.C. Latham – Offensive tackle

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama
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J.C. Latham is one of the top tackles in this year’s NFL Draft. At 6-6, 360 pounds, he has shown great speed, positional versatility, and pass/run block ability.

Throughout his football career, Latham has played both left and right tackle, but he has really shined at right tackle. In 2023, Latham only allowed 2 sacks and was instrumental in the run-and-pass game.

Tackle is one of, if not the number one position of need for the Saints, and J.C. Latham could help fill that hole. His pass game talent is evident, but he can also be impactful in the new potential Saints’ zone run scheme, but there are worries. Although Latham has the speed, at times, his footwork is slow. This is something that Latham will need to prove at the combine, and if he does, he will rise on the Saints’ draft board.

Pre-combine pick projection: Top 20

Terrion Arnold – Cornerback

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
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The cornerback rankings in this year’s NFL Draft have changed throughout the year, and there’s potential for more changes. Terrion Arnold’s draft stock rose over the season, and now he is looked at as the top corner prospect in the draft.

Terrion Arnold is not an exceptional athlete, but he is a lockdown man corner. In 2023, he had 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 5 picks, but the most exceptional stat was that he only allowed a passer rating of 50.7.

Although the cornerback position is not considered a top need for the Saints, if Marshon Lattimore is traded, then a need is created. Terrion Arnold could be looked at as his replacement and would be targeted at pick 14.

Pre-combine pick projection: Top 20

Kool-Aid McKinstry – Cornerback

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This is yet another corner coming out of Alabama’s 2023/2024 roster, but In contrast to Terrion Arnold, Kool-Aid McKinstry’s position in the draft went down throughout the season.

In 2022, Kool-Aid McKinstry had a fantastic season with QBs having only a 59.0 passer rating throwing his way. In 2023, Kool-Aid allowed a passer rating of 66.4 when targeted, which is not bad, but he had no stats that really jumped off the page.

Going into the combine, Kool-Aid has the potential to break back into the top 15 with a good performance, but with a bad performance, we could see the same story that happened with Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo.

Pre-combine pick projection: Late First

Chris Braswell – Defensive end/outside linebacker

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
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Chris Braswell was an underrated part of Alabama’s defense, as shown by his versatility and defensive IQ. He is a raw prospect with very high potential but a risk.

Braswell plays in the linebacker and edge rushing positions, but he shows potential in either position. Braswell showed high instincts in pass coverage and was a strong pass rusher. In 2023, Braswell had 16 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.

This year’s combine will be important for Braswell to show his skill and potential at either position. Once again, he is an unbelievably raw prospect, but if the Saints want to get a Zach Baun replacement with better coverage skill, this is their guy.

Pre-combine pick projection: Mid Second

Jermaine Burton – Wide Receiver

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2024 NFL draft, the wide receiver position is very talented and deep. There are three projected wide receivers in the top 10, at least 4 scattered throughout the rest of the first, and hidden gems throughout the rest of the draft. Jermaine Burton is one of those hidden gems.

In 2023, Burton had 39 receptions, 798 yards and 8 touchdowns. This might seem like average numbers, but Burton was the leading receiver for Alabama and proved his big play potential.

There is little Burton could do in the combine to improve his draft stock, but a good performance could still help. On the right team, Jermaine Burton could be a fantastic draft pick. His speed is too much for defenders, and he can make heavily contested catches. The biggest con with drafting Burton is his lack of blocking ability, and if the Saints do not draft him, then that is the reason.

Pre-combine pick projection: Late Second

Justin Eboigbe – Defensive Line

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice
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The defense line is a position group that always sees contributing players get drafted at any point of the draft. Justin Eboigbe (pronounced ee-boyg-bee) has the potential to be an impact player for any team in the NFL. In Alabama’s defense, Eboigbe played defensive end and defensive tackle, but in the NFL, he will probably play primarily defensive tackle.

In 2023, Eboigbe had 29 solo tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. Strength is a significant part of Justin Eboigbe’s game, but his patience in run and pass defense allowed him to assist in many tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Even if Eboigbe has an outstanding performance in the NFL Combine, there is little chance he can break into being a day-two pick. Saying this, having an excellent performance can guarantee a roster spot. Being a Senior Bowl participant, Eboigbe is already on the Saints’ radar, but his game could be a fantastic addition to the roster. Justin Eboigbe can be an amazing run-stuffer for any team that drafts him, and because the Saints need that, this is a pick that needs to happen.

Pre-combine pick projection: Early / Mid Day 3

Jase McClellan – Running Back

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Alabama at Michigan
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The final three Alabama prospects invited to the combine all have the potential to either be drafted in day three or be an undrafted free agent. Of the three prospects, running back Jase McClellan has the lowest chance of going undrafted.

In 2023, McClellan had 890 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns, but in the passing game, he had 15 receptions and 137 receiving yards.

McClellan could get drafted or go undrafted, depending on his performance at the NFL Combine. He is a strong running back with potential in the passing game and with solid combine performance, McClellan could be drafted as a good backup in the NFL. There is a worry that injury history could hurt his final draft stock.

Pre-combine pick projection: Mid / Late Day 3

Will Reichard- Kicker

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL team needs a good kicker, and although a lot end up going undrafted, Will Reichard has the potential to get drafted.

In 2023, Reichard had a field goal rate of 88% and was five for five in 50+ yard field goals.

In recent years, Nick Saban’s “kryptonite” was special teams, but Will Reichard was crucial in solving that issue. Reichard has been doing all he needs to make a mark and get drafted. He participated in the Senior Bowl and stood out as the top kicker. If Reichard can do the same at the combine, then there is a higher chance that he will get drafted.

Pre-combine pick projection: Late Day 3 / Undrafted

Jaylen Key – Defensive back

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 CFP Semifinal - Rose Bowl Game - Alabama vs Michigan
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The final Alabama prospect invited to the NFL Combine is Defensive back Jaylen Key. Key transferred to Alabama in 2023, where he played for his fifth and final year.

In 2023, Key had 35 solo tackles and 1 interception. At safety, Key showed high defensive IQ and big hit potential.

Jaylen Key has nothing to lose entering the NFL Combine. Key is an older prospect who is very unknown, and a bad performance will not hurt him, but a good performance could see him get drafted late.

Pre-combine pick projection: Undrafted


Originally posted on Canal Street Chronicles – All Posts