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Alabama’s top 5 NFL prospects for 2018

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama has been on a roll over the last two years. In that time frame, the Tide has seen 16 of their players taken within the top 3 rounds. That includes five players in the first-round, eight players in the second-round, and three in the third-round.

It doesn’t look like things will be slowing down anytime soon, either. Alabama has several highly regarded prospects who will be eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. There were a lot to choose from, but here are the top 5 NFL prospects for the Crimson Tide.

5. Ronnie Harrison, S

Class: Junior

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 214 pounds

Analysis: Harrison is an underrated part of Alabama’s defense. The former 4-star recruit made an immediate impact from the time that he stepped onto the field as a true freshman in 2015. He has only continued to get better since then. Harrison has a head-hunter mentality, but he also shows enough athleticism to match-up against elite receiving tight ends. His 6’3 214-pound frame gives him the necessary size as well. There aren’t too many people talking up Harrison at this point, but don’t be surprised if his draft stock steadily creeps up as the 2017 season progresses.

4. Anthony Averett, CB

Class: RS Senior

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 185 pounds

Analysis: Averett was a guy who emerged over the course of last season, and he actually had a chance to be an early draft pick if he had decided to leave early for the NFL. Ultimately, he chose to return for his fifth year with the hopes that he can improve his draft stock even more. Outside of a just a handful of times, Averett was a shutdown corner for Alabama this past season. He’s an impressive player as a press corner despite his size, and it got to a point where teams would avoid throwing at him. What’s even more impressive? Well, Averett played through a sports hernia injury. There’s little doubt that he will only continue to get better now that he should be fully healthy. The first-round is a real possibility for him if he continues to do what he did in 2016.

3. Da’Shawn Hand, DE

Class: Senior

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 282 pounds

Analysis: Hand is an incredibly talented player. He was simply overshadowed by former All-American Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson. He’ll finally get a chance to prove what he can do with a larger role. Like Allen, Hand is a little light for a 3-4 defensive end. Still, he has shown flashes as a 3-technique pass-rusher. The main question that Hand is going to need to answer is whether or not he can hold up as an every down run defender — meaning on early downs. Hand’s skill set should earn him first-round consideration, but the potential label as a “tweener” could hurt him at some point.

2. Calvin Ridley, WR

Class: Junior

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 190 pounds

Analysis: It’s tough not to love a guy like Calvin Ridley. Yes, the junior from Coconut Creek, Fla. had somewhat of a slump in his second season on campus, but that wasn’t really his fault. In fact, if you were to put on the tape, you would see that Ridley actually improved as a player in his second year. His ability to make an impact as both an inside and outside receiver gives him a nice boost when it comes to his draft stock. He already ranks No. 4 overall on Alabama’s school record for receptions in a career (161), and he also checks in at No. 9 in career receiving yardage (1,814). He’s a smooth receiver in and out of his breaks, and he has the necessary separation skills to become a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ridley’s name called somewhere in the top 10 of next year’s draft.

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB

Class: Junior

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 201 pounds

Analysis: Fitzpatrick is going to make an NFL team very happy in 2018. Outside of an injury or some other major circumstance, Fitzpatrick could be a lock to go in the top 10 in next year’s draft. He’s a versatile athlete who can make an impact as an inside corner, outside corner or safety. He already has the necessary build to hold up in a variety of roles, and he should test well at the combine if he chooses to come out early — there is little reason to believe that he wouldn’t. With the NFL being a passing league nowadays, a player with Fitzpatrick’s ability would be a welcomed addition to just about any team.

 

Clint Lamb is an associate editor for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “follow” him  on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

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