Alabama football: You think 2017 draft was impressive, Crimson Tide could go bigger in 2018 – SECcountry.com


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The 2017 NFL Draft saw 10 former Alabama football players taken, including a program record-tying four in the first round.

Now it’s time to look at some of the Alabama football players who could hear their names called in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

RELATED: You won’t believe how many former Bama players are on NFL rosters

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

NFL teams love versatility and defensive backs don’t get much more versatile than Fitzpatrick. He can play cornerback, safety and nickel defensive back. He can cover, he’s physical against the run and he understands how to blitz. He can be the leader of a defense, make adjustments for the secondary and be a ball hawk in the middle of the field.

There’s very little that Fitzpatrick can’t do. Fitzpatrick should hear his name early in the draft next year if he’s healthy.

WR Calvin Ridley

There is a premium on receivers who are explosive and can make plays after the catch. That’s Ridley. Through two seasons at Alabama, Ridley has 1,814 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 161 receptions.

Look for him to have another big season as he enters the year as the Crimson Tide’s clear No. 1 option.

RELATED: Tide’s 2017 draft class graded second-best ever

DL Da’Ron Payne

Payne is a run-stuffing mammoth of a man. He doesn’t make the flashy plays, but Payne consistently draws double teams and collapses the pocket. That allows linebackers to roam free and make plays.

Payne has improved as a pass rusher which will only increase his value to NFL teams.

Alabama football-Minkah Fitzpatrick-Da'Ron Payne-Nick Saban-2018 NFL Draft-NFL Draft
Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne could be one of the top picks for the 2018 NFL Draft. (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)

DB Ronnie Harrison

Harrison is a big hitter with a mean streak. We’re not saying he’s Kam Chancellor, but he has some of those qualities.

Harrison plays with a lot of emotion and isn’t afraid to mix it up with opposing teams. He’ll need to improve his coverage skills, but Harrison has first-round potential.

DL Da’Shawn Hand

Hand may be a bit of a stretch at this point, but there’s nothing to suggest he couldn’t have a Jonathan Allen-like senior season.

A former 5-star prospect, Hand waited his turn and will finally get his opportunity to be a full-time starter in 2017. When he played, Hand flashed elite pass-rushing ability and is solid against the run.

LB Rashaan Evans

Evans is another versatile player who could really help himself with a strong senior year. If the coaches let him, Evans could be one of the best pure pass rushers in the country.

Alabama decided to move him inside which should help his value long term.

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