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Jumbo Package: Will Oklahoma be a legitimate playoff threat this year?

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Oklahoma v Florida Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There have been many questions around Alabama’s basketball roster after the transfer commitments of Nimari Burnett and Noah Gurley. We got one answer on that yesterday as 2021 juco signee Langston Wilson requested a release.

Looking at his timeline, Wilson seems conflicted about the whole thing. He has some well documented health issues that may be playing a role. Best of luck to him, wherever he lands.

On the football side, LaBryan Ray will be counted on to lead the DL this season.

“Just improving my game and just having another year where I can prove it to myself, prove it to my teammates that I can play at a high level and maintain it,” he said last week. “I just have a lot of personal goals as well that I definitely want to accomplish. That’s what I’m here to do.”

Ray technically has two years of eligibility remaining at Alabama because of the NCAA’s blanket waiver for fall athletes in 2020. But there is natural urgency for Ray to shake off a college career that has been deeply affected by injuries, which have also included a season-ending foot injury in November of his 2017 freshman season.

Ray is the elder statesman of a ridiculously deep and talented unit. The only way to really slow these spread offenses is to get pressure on the QB without having to blitz. Let it be written.

Is Oklahoma going to be for real this year?

Rattler ranked 11th in QBR last season. That is low relative to the dominance of OU quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts who preceded him but very high for a returning quarterback overall. With Rattler — along with most of the Sooners’ pass-catching production — back for 2021, Oklahoma has the best offense in the country, FPI believes.

While Riley teams are known for their offenses — and this year’s team is no exception — FPI believes the Sooners’ defense will not be a liability, ranking the unit 15th among FBS teams.

All of that together makes Oklahoma not only the second-best team behind Alabama, but it also gives the Sooners the second-best shot at the playoff (73%) and the second-best shot at winning the national championship (26%).

Color me skeptical. There are still some serious talent discrepancies between that roster and the perennial playoff contenders.

The Raiders’ SB Nation site has a brief scouting report on some of Alabama’s draft prospects.

Guard Deonte Brown:

Brown is massive at 6’3, 344 pounds. He is powerful and a good, fundamentally-sound run blocker, which is important to the Raiders. But he does have some limitations. However, if Las Vegas offensive line coach Tom Cable likes his ceiling, Brown could be a play in the fourth round.

Tackle Alex Leatherwood:

This could be a target at No. 48 for Las Vegas. Leatherwood is an athletic, versatile player who has experience at both guard and tackle. Some scouts feel like he may project as a guard longterm in the NFL, however, he should be played at right or left tackle first. If the Raiders think Leatherwood is a fit at right tackle for them, he may be a real possibility in the second round.

247sports offered some insight on why the bump rule is likely to be abolished.

College football’s record-setting 13-month recruiting dead period ends on June 1, the first moment coaches are once again allowed to meet with recruits and evaluate talent in-person. The so-called “Saban rule” was passed in 2008, which at time, barred head coaches from speaking with recruits on the road but did allow for meetings with coaches and teachers who could share pertinent info on prospects.

That rule might hurt lower-level programs much more than it does Saban and Alabama, according to 247Sports’ Josh Pate. And it arguably hurts high school players the most. Pate explained why Sunday night on 247Sports’ “Late Kick” podcast.

Just another rule that hurts the players in the name of competitive balance which will never be achieved.

Last, the first episode of this documentary on Najee Harris is about 20 minutes and 100% worth your time. Among other things, he details his recruitment, including the flirtation with Michigan.

It’s tough to imagine life throwing anything at Najee that he can’t handle.

That’s about it for now. Have a great day.

Roll Tide.