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Jumbo Package: Saban ties record for most career first round draft picks

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s a big weekend on the diamond, as both the baseball and softball teams are at home, the men against #14 LSU while the #3 Tide women host #23 Kentucky. Of course, the big news of the day involves the NFL Draft.

Alabama had another three first-rounders Thursday night, which was one less than the Crimson Tide had in 2017 and one less than they had in 2018. But it set another record for Nick Saban.

The Alabama head coach now has 34 first-round picks in his career, according to ESPN. Butch Davis also had 34, according to Bruce Feldman of TheAthletic.com, and former Penn State coach Joe Paterno had 33.

That record is going to get trashed next season with Tua Tagovailoa, Najee Harris, and Jerry Jeudy all virtual locks to go in the first, plus a host of guys like Henry Ruggs, Alex Leatherwood, Dylan Moses, Xavier McKinney and Trevon Diggs, who have the potential to play their way into contention in 2019.

It was a pretty strange first round. Following the expected top three of Kyler Murray (LOL), Nick Bosa and our own Quinnen Williams, the Raiders took Clelin Ferrell at #4 overall which seemed to be a stretch, especially considering the fact that Josh Allen and Rashan Gary were still on the board. Then, the Giants took Duke QB Daniel Jones at #6 overall, and Giants fans were very angry about it, especially after the division rival Washington Redskins were able to nab Dwayne Haskins at #15. The Detroit Lions reached big time to get Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at #8 overall.

The Cincinnati Bengals were thrilled to see Jonah Williams fall into their laps and #11, and then the Oakland Raiders took Josh Jacobs with the #24 pick. All of the Alabama players are getting great reviews.

Williams had a full can of whup ass waiting for you. And it looked like he got free refills.

I truly enjoyed seeing what Williams could do when he was lined up in the gaps, but he also more than held his own when Alabama had him in heavy or head-up alignments as well. His functional strength was excellent, and his exemplary technique extended far beyond just his arm-overs.

He was great with his hands while taking on run blocks, and Williams was usually able to get vertical push into the backfield when a team was bold enough to try to block him one on one. Oh, and while some of his “prettiest” highlights are from him running around people, don’t get it twisted, Williams is not a finesse player.

It’s a great thing to me when a player shows he has the kind of skillset where if it doesn’t work out at one position, he has the potential to succeed at a different spot. It gives teams leeway in case there are some struggles at the beginning of a guy’s career.

That kind of versatility is especially welcome for offensive linemen because of how few are usually carried on the gameday roster for most teams. When you have a bunch of guys who can play wherever, then an injury or two on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t have to result in disaster.

As the NFL continues to become more creative in its playcalling, offensive draft prospects who can do a bit of everything become more valuable to teams. One of the most versatile weapons this year is Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, whom the Oakland Raiders picked 24th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Jacobs produced everywhere for Alabama, whether it was standard handoffs, wildcat running plays, blocking, or receiving. He was able to perform as the Crimson Tide’s battering ram when they needed a yard or two, and he was a graceful receiver down the field when Alabama asked him to line up there.

Jacobs’ story was front and center at the draft, as told through The Players’ Tribune. He has a lot of folks rooting hard for him, even if he has to play for one of the worst franchises in pro sports. Interesting note: Jacobs was taken with the pick that Oakland acquired from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for Amari Cooper.

Alabama athletes are still excelling in the classroom.

All 10 eligible members of Alabama’s gymnastics team made the list. The men’s basketball team led all SEC teams with eight players honored, including Riley Norris, John Petty, Alex Reese, Herbert Jones, Galin Smith and Avery Johnson Jr.

The women’s swimming and diving team had 22 athletes honored, good for fourth-most in the SEC. Men’s swimming and diving had 21 athletes on the list. The women’s basketball team had five honorees.

Congratulations to all.

Last, the FBI probe into basketball turned up some interesting comments from a Clemson coach about their football program.

Clemson assistant basketball coach Steve Smith was caught on a wiretap discussing the recruitment of Williamson, as well as the Clemson football program, according to testimony coverage by The Associated Press and Matt Norlander of CBSSports at the FBI trial related to college basketball corruption.

Clemson responded to the testimony.

“We are aware of the developments in federal court today involving one of our men’s basketball assistant coaches. We take this matter seriously and will immediately conduct a review,” Clemson Athletics said in a statement.

Clemson declined to say whether a person or program was being reviewed, referring a request for further comment back to the statement the school released.

Yeah, they’ll check into that right after they find the source of that darn Ostarine, and when they’re done helping O.J. find the real killer.

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

Roll Tide.