Alabama annually plays a starring role in the NFL draft, but the Crimson Tide‘s impact could reach new heights in the spring of 2023.
“All five of Alabama’s defensive backs could go Round 1,” an NFL executive told Heavy on August 4.
Jordan Battle returns to Tuscaloosa for his senior season this fall, despite authoring the kind of resumè that could have had him chosen in the first round in 2022. Battle finished the 2021 season with 85 total tackles, intercepted 3 passes and returned a pair of them for touchdowns.
Battle also finished with an 89.7 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus, as the outlet’s fourth-highest grades safety in the nation.
“I have no earthly idea why Battle stayed in school,” the executive said.
While Battle might be the first member of the Alabama secondary to hear his name called during the 2023 draft, the executive suggests DeMarcco Hellams and Malachi Moore might be even better players.
Hellams enters his senior season on the heels of a monster 2021 campaign that saw him produce 87 tackles with 3 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, and 2.5 tackles for loss.
As if fielding a secondary that featured two potential first-round picks at safety isn’t daunting enough for opponents, the executive believes there is a real chance that Moore also could sneak into the first round.
But, the Alabama stars likely won’t be alone in hearing their names called in Round 1, or as safeties selected during the draft.
2023 NFL Draft = History in the Making?
There were 19 safeties chosen during the 2022 NFL draft, but that number may pale in comparison to the number of players at the position who come off the board in 2023.
“This is going to be the best safety draft in NFL history,” the executive boldly predicted. “Not just from a talent standpoint, but there might also be more safeties picked next spring than any other year.”
As the NFL continues to tilt even further in favor of the passing game, the trend of double-digit safeties being drafted annually has the chance to continue, with the possibility of 2023 being the recent high-water mark.
In addition to the Alabama stars, Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson and Notre Dame’s Brandon Joseph are also among the top prospects to watch at the position, as the upcoming college football season nears.
Alabama May Boast the ‘Best Player in College Football’
Opposing offensive coordinators rarely get much sleep the night before facing an Alabama defense, and this year will be no different.
The same may go for quarterbacks.
“Will Anderson might be the best player in college football this season,” the executive declared.
Anderson, 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds is one of the more disruptive front-seven players in the nation, having recorded 17.5 sacks and 57 solo tackles in 2021. He was nearly unblockable last season.
As Pro Football Focus points out, Anderson was the first true sophomore to lead the nation in pressures (82) since Chase Young accomplished that feat back in 2018.
His dominance up front has not only put him squarely in the conversation as the potential No. 1 overall pick — if his teammate, quarterback Bryce Young doesn’t hear his name called first, but Anderson has also drawn comparisons to Von Miller, from the likes of the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
“He reminds me of: Von Miller,” Jeremiah wrote in a July 15 scouting report. “I realize this is high praise but I got the same vibe watching Anderson that I did when I studied Miller coming out of Texas A&M in 2011. Both guys have very long arms. They understand how to set up blockers and finish. They are devastating on the backside versus the run and they play with excellent effort.”
If Anderson comes close to reaching that potential, especially playing in front of Alabama’s loaded secondary, it may prove near impossible to score on the Tide this season.
Regardless, when the draft gets underway in Kansas City the crowd may be a sea of red, but the board could be predominately a different shade; Crimson.