TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After having one player taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Crimson Tide has a chance at having multiple players drafted on Day 1 in 2017.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his “Too-Early 2017 Big Board” early Wednesday morning, and Alabama is well represented.
First on the list is Alabama outside linebacker Tim Williams. Despite playing a limited role as a junior in 2015, Williams had a breakout campaign during the Tide’s national championship run.
The Baton Rouge, La. native finished third in the SEC and among the top 15 in the country with 10.5 sacks. Williams is expected to step into a more prominent role as a senior this season.
“On a per-snap basis, Williams is as disruptive as any player in America, and I think he would have easily been a first-rounder in the 2016 draft. The question is whether he can be as dominant when he’s playing more snaps.”
Rising junior Cam Robinson checks in at No. 7 on Kiper’s list. Robinson has been starting at left tackle for Alabama since he stepped on campus, and has shown a warrior’s mentality throughout his two years in playing through ankle and shoulder injuries. He missed all of spring practice this year while recovering from shoulder surgery, but should be 100 percent by the time the fall rolls around.
“With 29 mostly dominant starts in just two years at Alabama, Robinson is already a known commodity around the NFL. The 6-foot-6, 327-pound left tackle is pretty close to the range of ‘prototype’ at the position and will be a top-10 pick with another solid season.” — Kiper
Rising senior Jonathan Allen is listed at No. 12. Allen turned down a chance at the NFL after a strong junior season in which he finished second in the SEC and among the top 10 in the country with 12 sacks. He’ll get his shot at leading Alabama’s defensive line with A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed off to the NFL.
“It was the 6-foot-3, 280-plus-pounder who led the Crimson Tide in sacks (12.0) and tackles for loss (14.5) last season. How good could those totals be when he sees more time after some draft departures? We’ll see.” — Kiper
Alabama tight end O.J. Howard didn’t make Kiper’s top 25, but received an honorable mention. Howard showcased his enormous potential in Alabama’s national championship win over Clemson in January. He was named Offensive MVP after catching five passes for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Other notable SEC players among Kiper’s top 25 include Texas A&M pass rushing specialist Myles Garrett at No. 1, LSU running back Leonard Fournette at No. 3, Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson at No. 22 and Georgia running back Nick Chubb at No. 25.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson listed at No. 4, Michigan safety/inside linebacker Jabrill Peppers at No. 9 and USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at No. 17 are some other notable players from around the country to make Kiper’s list.