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(Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports)

2017 NFL Draft Prospects: Alabama Crimson Tide

2017 NFL Draft
Nick Saban prepares to lead his 2017 NFL draft ridden team into battle (Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports)

There are many NCAA schools riddled with NFL talent on their rosters. Each player has the sparkle in his eye and the hope of hearing his name called in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 27th. The reality is, not everyone can be selected during the 2017 NFL draft. Today, I break down the NFL talent from the University of Alabama.

The Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide have fourteen prospects that have a chance to hear their name called during the 2017 NFL draft. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each player.

Reuben Foster – ILB

2017 NFL Draft
Reuben Foster delivers a sack against the Gators in the SEC Championship game (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Height: 6’0″
Weight: 229 lbs.

Reuben Foster is one of the most complete linebackers in recent memory. He carries an alpha mentality with elite sideline-to-sideline coverage and incredible explosion. While he mostly plays inside, Foster is just as comfortable in coverage.

Last season, Foster recorded 115 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 passes defended against. An important trait that every NFL linebacker needs is his love to create contact and drive opposing players downhill. Reuben Foster absolutely possess this trait.

And it does not stop there. Foster has plenty of moments where he shows that he is the top middle linebacker in this 2017 NFL draft class. Check the tape.

One NFC Director of Scouting told,

“I think he’s a pure run-and-hit WILL linebacker with good cover talent. I have a higher grade on him than I had on Reggie Ragland. Better pro potential to me.”

Look for Reuben Foster to be selected early in the 1st  by the Jacksonville Jaguars (4th overall). The Jaguars have completely revamped their defense and one of the few remaining missing pieces is a middle linebacker who can take control of the defense, emphatically play against the run, and is willing/able to cover in space. Reuben Foster fits that mold to a tee.

Player Comparison: Patrick Willis

O.J. Howard – TE

2017 NFL Draft
O.J. Howard is the most complete tight end to enter the draft in recent memory (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

Height: 6’6″
Weight: 251 lbs.

To say O.J. Howard was underutilized at Alabama is an understatement. Howard has the uncanny combination of size, speed, athleticism, and toughness it takes to succeed at the NFL level. He possesses the size to block defensive ends and the speed to threaten the third level of the defense.

While he did not have the production, he absolutely has the potential. Howard is willing to do all of the dirty work that is involved with playing the tight end position. He loves to dominate the run game with his blocking as well as create matchup problems as a receiver.

One anonymous scout told Peter Schrager, of GMFB, on NFL Network,

“He is Jimmy Graham if Jimmy Graham enjoyed blocking.”

Because there is no true top 5 receiver in this draft, look for O.J. Howard to be selected right after his teammate, Reuben Foster, by the Tennessee Titans (5th overall). While Delanie Walker is still the top asset on this offense, he is steadily climbing the age ladder. The addition of Howard would do wonders for this offense and Mariota for years to come.

Player Comparison: Better blocking Jimmy Graham

Jonathan Allen – DT

2017 NFL Draft
Jonathan Allen shows his toughness in one of the most insane tackles I have ever seen (Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports)

Height: 6’3″
Weight: 286 lbs.

Last season, Jonathan Allen recorded an astounding 16 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 passes batted down, and 3 fumble recoveries. The big man loves to play around the football. He also won the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Award (the nation’s top defender on the nation’s top defense).

Most scouts see Allen as having Pro Bowl potential. One anonymous NFC director of player personnel told,

“He’s a really talented pass rusher but he’s always been surrounded by enough talent that it’s been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him. He’s skilled and very fundamentally sound but I just worry about his size and how he holds up to NFL running games.”

Allen is able to line up on the interior and along the edge of the defensive line without sacrificing production. He has tremendous athletic ability and uses his play strength and quickness to overpower interior lineman.

With the loss of defensive anchor Calais Campbell to the Jaguars in the offseason, look for the Arizona Cardinals to select Jonathan Allen early/middle of the 1st round (13th overall). The Cardinals know every good NFL defense begins along the trenches.

Player Comparison: Sheldon Richardson

The Other Crimson Tide

Cam Robinson (OT) – Late 1st round (26th overall) – Seattle Seahawks
Ryan Anderson (DE) – Early 2nd (36th overall) – Chicago Bears
Marlon Humphrey (CB) – Late 2nd round (60th overall) – Dallas Cowboys 
Tim Williams (OLB) – Late 2nd round (62nd overall) – Pittsburgh Steelers 
Dalvin Tomlinson (DT) – Mid 3rd (79th overall) – Minnesota Vikings
Eddie Jackson (SS) – Early 4th round (116th overall) – Cincinnati Bengals
ArDarius Stewart (WR) – Early 5th round (147th overall) – Chicago Bears
Gehrig Dieter (WR) – Undrafted
Dakota Ball  (FB) – Undrafted
Cole Mazza (LS) – Undrafted
Adam Griffith (K) – Undrafted

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