By (Matthew Speakman)

Every year, Alabama sees multiple players selected in the first few rounds of the NFL Draft. Usually, it is talented recruits leaving early to fulfill their overall potential as a pro athlete. This year, the Crimson Tide benefited from many of its pro-ready players deciding to return for their senior season. During their senior years, a lot of these players made significant strides, proving that their decision to return was one that benefitted them.

With the NFL Draft occurring today, multiple Alabama seniors have the chance to be selected early in the draft. These seniors will look to add on to the 18 players who have been drafted in the first round sine Nick Saban took over in 2007.

Jonathan Allen

Possibly Alabama’s best player last season, Jonathan Allen was an absolute force on the defensive line and was one of the Crimson Tide most consistent performers throughout his four years. Standing at 6-foot-3, 291 pounds, Allen used a rare combination of power and speed to break through through offensive lines. Allen racked up an impressive 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks during his senior year. Allen also contributed to Alabama’s 11 defensive touchdowns with two of his own. That season led to him taking home many awards, including the Lombardi Trophy for the nation’s top defensive player.

Questions have been raised about his health, but Allen is slated to go in the top 10 of this year’s draft, with many people having Chicago (No. 3), Jacksonville (No. 4) and Jonathan Allen (No. 5) as possible landing spots.

OJ Howard

Howard has been one of the draft’s hottest prospects this year, and with good reason. Howard has always been talented, but his showing at the combine and Alabama’s pro day has a lot of general managers ready to pull the trigger on him. While at Alabama, Howard was often underused, as the Crimson Tide’s offense under Lane Kiffin did not feature the tight ends as primary pass catchers. Howard was big when Alabama needed him, however. In the 2015 National Championship, he caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. In the rematch against Clemson, he hauled in a 68-yard touchdown. Howard is an athletic freak, and could be a big target in an NFL passing scheme. Many mock drafts have him going as No. 4 to the Jaguars.

Reuben Foster

Alabama’s hardest hitter and loudest vocal leader, Foster established himself as the country’s top linebacker last year by taking home the Bednarik Award. Foster studied behind past Alabama greats, playing next to Reggie Ragland, then taking his spot when Ragland moved onto the NFL. Last year, Foster showed his versatility by racking up 115 tackles as well as 13 tackles for loss and five sacks. He showed speed and ruthless hitting power. Foster has been someone who scouts love for his on-the-field play, but questions about his character have risen after a couple of issues surrounding the combine. Regardless of these issues, Foster’s tape speaks for itself. He diagnoses a play as quickly as anyone. Foster may fall on draft day, but his highest landing spot could be Cincinnati at the No. 9 pick.

Tim Williams

Williams was a feared pass rusher, and one of the more talented players in Alabama’s front seven during his two years. Williams was explosive and his first step is among the best in the country. Last year, Williams racked up 9 sacks, good for second on the team. Williams has been slipping on many draft boards as of recent due to team’s questions about his character. Williams’ biggest asset to teams is his ability to get to the passer, as players like Von Miller and Khalil Mack have been integral to teams across the NFL. If Williams plays like he did for Alabama, he will be a star in the NFL.

Ryan Anderson

Anderson has been a consistent force for the Alabama front seven since he broke into the starting lineup his sophomore year. Anderson is one of the toughest guys on the team, and his hitting power shows that. Anderson is a big outside linebacker, standing at 6-foot-2, 253 pounds, Anderson was able to get to the backfield often last year. He recorded nine sacks and 19 tackles for loss, which was a team high. Anderson has caught the attention of many scouts and many outlets have called him the most underrated prospect in this year’s class. Currently, he has a third-round grade.

Eddie Jackson

Coming off of a fractured leg, Jackson is currently flying under the radar. Since making the switch from cornerback to safety before his junior season, Jackson thrived as Alabama’s centerfielder. He had a knack for finding the ball. In his career, he nine interceptions for 303 yards — an Alabama record. Jackson was a permanent captain for the Crimson Tide, and was named All-SEC his junior year. Jackson complemented Ronnie Harrison with coverage skills.

Dalvin Tomlinson

Another one of Alabama’s players that flew under the radar was Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson had 62 total tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Tomlinson is currently projected as a third or fourth round prospect. Tomlinson has strong hands, and can blow up any play with his large frame. Mostly he is a guy who takes up space and can get to running backs on the inside. He also rushes the passer reasonably well.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports