It has become a yearly tradition for SEC alumni to dominate the opening round of the NFL Draft. Some of those players are drafted based on Combine measurables that show potential, but many are selected because they have demonstrated they’re ready to play Week 1 of the NFL season.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. made an appearance on “SEC Nation” Saturday to discuss the conference’s 2021 draft class. He was asked about the most NFL-ready player from the SEC during his appearance.

“It’s hard not to go with Najee Harris, the running back out of Alabama, but I’m going to go with his teammate DeVonta Smith,” Kiper said on the SEC Network. “Ja’Marr Chase opted out from LSU, thought he’d be the No. 1 receiver. Now DeVonta Smith is putting pressure on Chase. ‘Hey what about me? I’m out here playing. I’m performing every week. I’ve been consistent throughout my career. I’ve got 35 career touchdown catches, six or more catches in every game this season.’

“Spectacular route runner. I only saw one drop in the last four or five games. Nick Saban loves the kid. I think DeVonta Smith is a guy that’s going to come into the NFL and from the start and throughout his career, be one heck of a player and maybe a future Hall of Famer.”

Smith’s NFL outlook certainly won’t hurt on the recruiting trail. Saban’s staff, of course, has already been able to point to the success of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs.

[H/T 247Sports]