After losing several top players to the 2021 draft, it was expected that Alabama would take a step back. That was not the case, as they won an SEC Championship and made it to the National Championship. The Crimson Tide, per usual, is the favorite to win it all next season and they have the talent returning to Tuscaloosa to go undefeated. If Alabama’s offensive line can hold up, they have the chance to go down as one of the better teams Nick Saban has coached, which is saying a lot. Here are their top prospects to watch this fall (in alphabetical order).
Top Alabama Prospects to Watch for 2023 NFL Draft
DE Will Anderson Jr.
The term “generational talent” gets thrown around a lot, but Anderson Jr. has the tape to back up that label. He is right up there with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney as top-of-the-line pass rush prospects, and with a good season, he’ll be viewed higher than them by the NFL. Depending on how the quarterbacks perform this fall, Anderson Jr. could be the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
DS Jordan Battle
Had Battle come out last year, he would have been a potential first-round pick. By returning to school, Battle has the opportunity to end up as the top safety in this class. Battle does everything at a high level, from tackling, man and zone coverage as well as creating turnovers. He will be a day one starter at the next level and scheme versatile. Whoever selects Battle in the draft is getting a stud who will play in the NFL for a long time.
DS Brian Branch
There are a lot of really intriguing tools that Branch brings to the table. He is fantastic in man coverage, with the ability to come downhill and tackle. He is versatile and can play nickel or safety. Branch is a loose athlete who effortlessly changes direction. Like Daxton Hill, who the Bengals just took in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, a team will need to define Branch’s role before selecting him that high.
WR Jermaine Burton
last season, Burton was hindered by poor quarterback play at Georgia. He decided to transfer and is now the top receiver on the Crimson Tide and gets to play with an elite quarterback. Burton has all the tools to be the next transfer first-round pick from Alabama. His hands are excellent, and he is already an advanced route runner. It was a smart move for Burton to transfer to Alabama, and that move will pay dividends this fall.
OG Javion Cohen
Based on last season’s film, Cohen is Alabama’s top returning offensive lineman. He is a very good athlete who consistently got the job done in pass protection last season. Cohen still needs to get better at sustaining blocks and improving his play strength, but for a sophomore in the SEC in 2021, Cohen held his own.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
After Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Gibbs looks like the favorite to be the second back off the board. Hisness and ability in the passing game explosive are perfect for the modern NFL. Gibbs can easily break off big runs and is a mismatch nightmare for defenses as a receiver. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Gibbs land in the back half of the first round, and he is a high second-round pick at worst.
WR Tyler Harrell
Speed, speed and more speed is the best way to describe Harrell’s game. He is a blazer who can take the top off the defense. Harrell decided to transfer from Louisville to Alabama and should see an uptick in snaps and production. With a talent like Young at quarterback, Harrell should have several big-time receptions. Like many track athletes, Harrell isn’t a refined route runner and needs to continue to improve his play strength. Anyone who can threaten the 40-time record should be a player to watch, especially in this kind of high-powered offense.
TE Cameron Latu
The former pass rusher, Latu, is still newer to tight end. He brings excellent athletic ability and separation skills to the table. As expected, there is still some rawness to his game, but the tools are there for Latu to be a solid starter at the next level. He still has to improve as a blocker and improve his hands to reach his upside as a prospect.
DS Malachi Moore
After an unbelievable freshman campaign, it looked like Moore was on his way to being a top 15 pick. Not playing at 100% and inconsistent tape last season creates some uncertainty for Moore’s projection. That said, he can play as a single high safety, with exceptional range and athleticism. There is a chance Moore returns to first-round status, but he is a high upside day two prospect for the NFL Draft.
CB Eli Ricks
Probably more of a day two cornerback right now; Ricks has a lot of work to do next season. Ricks isn’t a burner, which will hurt his upside as a prospect, but he has natural ball skills and instincts to create turnovers. Coming off of a down year in 2021, if Ricks can return to his freshman form, he’ll be highly viewed by zone-heavy teams.
LB Henry To’o To’o
There isn’t a clear-cut top linebacker in the draft, and To’o To’o has the chance to reach that ranking with another good season. He improved drastically from his sophomore season to his junior, and with another jump, To’o To’o could be viewed as one of the best defenders in the draft. He is on a similar trajectory to Devin Lloyd from Utah, who went 27th in this past draft.
QB Bryce Young
The only real knock on Young is his size. With the success of Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, the NFL will be more open to taking a player like Young high in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has the makeup to be the first pick, but even if he isn’t, Young will be a very good pro.
Other Players to Keep an Eye On:
- DJ Dale DT
- Justin Eboigbe DL
- DeMarcco Hellams DS
- Traeshon Holden WR
- Miles Kitselman TE
- Tyler Steen OT
- Byron Young DL
Down the Line Prospect to Watch: DE Dallas Turner
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Alabama have the top edge rusher in back-to-back drafts. Turner has special bend and explosion to get after the quarterback. He wins the outside track and does a great job of finishing plays. It will be impossible for opposing teams to stop him and Anderson Jr. next season, making them arguably the best pass rush duo in recent memory. Turner has the talent to be the top prospect for the 2024 draft.
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