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Jumbo Package: Alabama dominates another draft

The Tide led the way in the first round with four players selected.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. The baseball and softball teams are both on the road against top ten competition this weekend, and you shouldn’t expect much based on recent returns. The football talk is, of course, all about the NFL Draft.

The four players taken matched the four selected in the 2017 draft and Alabama has had at least one player picked in the first round since 2009.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne, Rashaan Evans and Calvin Ridley were all selected in the first round.

Crimson Tide Defender Fatigue has set in for Alabama draft prospects. (You know it’s bad when Ozzie Newsome keeps trading down so other teams can draft Tide defenders instead of him!) A projected NFL starter like Rashaan Evans would get rave reviews if he came out of most other programs. But as an Alabama linebacker, he is: a) compared to C.J. Mosley, Dont’a Hightower and the on-field Reuben Foster, and doesn’t always measure up to our memories of them; and b) downgraded for playing on a defense full of other top prospects, which means everyone benefits from everyone else’s presence but only the absolute top-tier players really stand out.

He has built a phenomenal program,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. Harbaugh knows firsthand.

Baltimore has selected five Alabama players in the Saban era, four of whom — cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2017), Mosley (2014), outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (2012) and defensive lineman Terrence Cody (2010) — arrived in the first two rounds. The attraction stems from more than the fact Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is an Alabama alumnus.

”The thing you know about those Alabama guys is that football is important to them,” Harbaugh said. “They understand the value of competing every day at practice and working hard in the offseason. They understand pressure and that you have to do things right, that there is a line and you can’t go below it if you want to be successful and be on the field.

Jones spent his offseason working out in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility where Ridley was also training. Naturally, the pair of wide receivers worked out together. That will continue for the foreseeable future with Ridley now on his way to Atlanta.

And Ridley, the second receiver selected Thursday, couldn’t be happier.

“I’m very excited to be coming in with Julio,” Ridley said, per AtlantaFalcons.com. “I know I’m going to learn a lot from him and become a better player. I’m very happy to be in that organization.”

Minkah was a damn steal at 11, though some pundits thought that Miami should have traded up for a quarterback. Payne will join Ryan Anderson and Jonathan Allen in DC, Ridley will pair with Julio Jones in Atlanta, and Evans will play with new starter Derrick Henry in Tennessee. Saban just keeps turning out them busts.

Gotta wonder what Ol’ Khaki Pants thinks of his brother talking about Saban in those terms.

“I always would get a ball signed by all of my teammates, going all the way back to Cullman and into the NFL,” Britt said. “They meant a lot.”

The tornado, though, played no favorites. Britt thought his 2002 ball was gone for good, a small but personally meaningful loss in a storm that took so much from so many.

It was nearly a year later when Britt was on hand for a function honoring former Crimson Tide players at the Bryant Museum. As the reception went on, Britt browsed through the museum, looking at the displays. He then came across a new exhibit showing the impact the storm had on Tuscaloosa, including photographs of the monster funnel cloud as it roared just blocks away from Bryant-Denny Stadium. And there was something else that caught his eye in the exhibit: an autographed football that had been found in the debris left behind in a Tuscaloosa neighborhood miles away from the Britt’s home. Still, as he looked closely at the names, and the extensive number of signatures from players and coaches, he knew.

“I could tell it was my football,” Britt said.

This is a really cool story. Apparently Wesley Britt’s football landed on Cecil Hurt’s driveway after the tornado, he took it to the Bryant Museum, and Britt was reunited with it.

Last but not least, if you ever questioned the size of Saban’s presence in Alabama:

She added: “I haven’t seen the mayor of Mobile, the mayor of Baldwin County, the mayor of Saraland come out and say ‘this is wrong. Close your eyes and imagine, white girl and three black men.”

Some attendees wanted to see more than just a Waffle House boycott.

”Nick Saban will give one hell of a civil rights speech if pull all our kids out of these schools,” said Leo Alexander, a former mayoral candidate in Washington DC. “And you better believe Saban will. That hits his bottom line.”

Normally you’d think it odd for a football coach’s name to be randomly inserted into a civil rights debate that had absolutely nothing to do with sports, but this is Alabama and this is Nick Saban.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.