With 7 potential 1st-rounders, could this be the greatest Alabama team ever?
Week to week, college football fans and pundits alike watch the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide steamroll opponents and wonder to themselves the following question … where are the weaknesses? Where are the holes?
That goes for us here at Saturday Down South, too. Yours truly is tasked with the unenviable task of buffing the scratches off what is a 5-ton monster truck as it destroys row after row of 1979 Pintos.
Tua Tagovailoa throws for 400 yards in 3 quarters? OK, what about those incompletions … The Tide defense allows a couple of garbage-time TDs? Which coordinator might be fired first …
Sunday’s news that the opening line of the Alabama-Texas A&M game at Kyle Field is set at 18 points is equal parts unsurprising and staggering. Unsurprising in that the top-ranked Crimson Tide has pretty much been able to call its score against all 5 opponents this season. And staggering in that any team getting 18 points at a place known for its raucous “12th Man” speaks to the absolute dominance of the visiting squad.
As the headline to this article suggests, it is quite possible that the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide could well be the greatest Alabama team ever.
Actually applying a metric to this claim is very tricky, for a variety of reasons. First, much as it is pretty much impossible to say one child is better than their sibling, good luck on getting Tide coach Nick Saban to ever truthfully rank his 5 Alabama national title teams.
Likewise for 11 of the 12 other Alabama titles … we can really only eliminate the weakest-of-all-weak 1941 crown from consideration — not because the Houlgate folks don’t know what they’re doing, necessarily, but that a Houlgate title in 1941 means Central Florida actually won a title in 2017. And we all know that didn’t happen.
And stats are irrelevant from season to season. No two teams are alike in their makeup, and eras in college football are impossible to compare. Your dad’s 1965 team isn’t your kid’s 2017 team.
But wait, there is one constant in the modern era of college football that allows for comparison.
The NFL Draft.
Yes, we know that the NFL Draft isn’t exactly perfect. For every Brandon Jacobs, there is a Tony Mandarich. For every Tom Brady, there is a Ryan Leaf. Bart Starr was the 200th overall pick in the 17th round of the 1956 draft, and what the heck did he ever do as a pro?
With all those caveats out of the way, it is quite possible that the 2019 Crimson Tide could produce a record 7 1st-round draft picks.
That’s correct. Seven. Out of 32. From 1 team.
The Miami Hurricanes famously produced 6 1st-rounders in 2004 — as DB Sean Taylor went 5th to the Redskins, TE Kellen Winslow Jr. 6th to the Browns, LB Jonathan Vilma 12th to the Jets, LB D.J. Williams 17th to the Broncos, OG Vernon Carey 19th to the Dolphins and DT Vince Wilfork 21st to the Patriots.
This Alabama team could, incredibly, break that mark. Early mock drafts are out, and one by Yahoo.com’s Eric Edholm has 6 Tide players coming off the board in the 1st round.
Tagovailoa is the No. 1 pick by the woeful Dolphins, of course. WR Henry Ruggs III is 6th to the Broncos. Interestingly, WR Jerry Jeudy is projected to go No. 8 to the Dolphins — re-uniting Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince with his Jeudy at the next level.
After that, Edholm has offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood at No. 19 to Carolina, defensive lineman Raekwon Davis at No. 21 to Cleveland and defensive back Trevon Diggs at No. 22 to the Eagles.
That adds up to 6, of course, in the first 22 picks. With 10 more picks out there in the 1st round, your SDS Senior Draft Analyst (me) wants to offer 1 more …
WR DeVonta Smith is a superstar, as evidenced by his record-breaking afternoon against Ole Miss — grabbing 11 passes for 274 yards and 5 touchdowns. At 6-1 and 175 pounds, Smith burst on the scene almost immediately when he snagged the game-winning TD pass from Tagovailoa in the 2017 national title game. Smith is 3rd in the SEC and 5th nationally with 537 receiving yards, and his 8 TDs lead the conference and are tied for 2nd nationally among all WRs.
Listen, mock drafts in October — with more than half a season remaining, not to mention all those combines and private workouts — are long-range predicting that make hurricane meteorologists look like soothsayers in comparison.
But if Smith continues his pace, one cannot imagine a single team in the NFL that wouldn’t want his big-play services. And that would make 7 Tide players in the 1st round, a record that would be awfully tough to beat.
If Smith “falls” to the 2nd round, of course, it isn’t as if his career is ruined before it starts. And none of that matters if the main goal isn’t reached — Alabama running the table and winning No. 18. That quest continues again Saturday against a Texas A&M team led by a coach (Jimbo Fisher) who knows a thing or two about Saban.
Is this the greatest team ever? No one truly knows. But one thing is certain: It should be fun to see them try and make the claim.