Not surprisingly, Alabama has a number of players perceived as potential first-round picks, with none ranked higher than offensive tackle Evan Neal.
The 6-foot-7, 360-pound Neal was a five-star recruit who started immediately as a guard in 2019 before transitioning to right tackle in 2020. He is expected to start for a third consecutive season as a junior this fall at left tackle, which could serve as a springboard for him being an early first-round pick during next April’s draft in Las Vegas.
Neal has size that NFL teams covet at the position and will likely begin this season with all-conference recognition.
With the NFL Draft over, it’s time to start talking about.... Next year’s NFL Draft. Obviously.
In any case, the 2022 Tide group doesn’t look to be quite as loaded as the 2021 class was (a lot of the superstar-potential talent are 1st and 2nd year players). However, Evan Neal is someone that’s already getting a lot of top-5 hype. If he plays up to the expectations we have for him in his third year starting, then the former 5-star tackle just might wind up in the running for the #1 overall pick... depending on who wants a QB.
“I think they’re going to be great,” Collins said. “I think Mac Jones is obviously pretty well-known. I think everyone is laughing at the photo when he got drafted of him compared to when the Patriots drafted Tom Brady, comparing the two of them. I think he’s going to be really talented.
“And Christian Barmore, of course, is also really impressive. He was key to Alabama’s amazing defense this year and our national championship, which if you missed that, Alabama did win the national championship this year.”
Collins said Alabama’s 10 draft picks last weekend speaks to how impressive the state of Alabama’s program is in 2021, thanks in large part to the relationship between coaches and friends Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.
“Someone joked that Alabama was like a breeding ground for the NFL, but you always see this pipeline to your team the Patriots,” Collins said, speaking to Berman. “It’s this relationship with Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. It’s just so interesting to see how he really does rely on Saban who, of course, has experience with the NFL, to talk about what these players would be like, how he thinks they would be going from the college level to the professional level. And I think it’s awesome to watch, to see them go from one coach that has this stoic mindset to another coach that has a similar one.”
Collins said she’s excited to watch them all new draft picks play in the upcoming season.
“Not just those, but all of the Alabama players who went into the draft this week,” she said. “I think it’s 10 total, which is pretty amazing.”
Kaitlan Collins might currently be Alabama’s most famous alumna, and on top of being a top CNN journalist, she’s displaying her football analysis chops here. The more high-profile representation the Crimson Tide can get, the better it is for Saban’s recruiting tactics.
Oh, and Roll Patriots!
Alabama Athletics, one of the most recognizable and influential brands in all of sports, has created The Advantage, a comprehensive program that will provide Crimson Tide student-athletes with the education and tools necessary to build and elevate their personal brands.
In working with both campus partners and external entities, The Advantage, will focus on brand management, maximizing personal social media platforms and financial literacy.
“We are excited to launch this new program, which even further demonstrates our commitment to fully developing our student-athletes,” Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said in a release. “We are blessed to have incredible resources on campus with our institution, allowing us to better fit our specific needs and evolve The Advantage, as needed.”
This move from Alabama’s athletics department is in concurrence with Governor Kay Ivey signing off on the Name-Image-Likeness bill that will go into effect on July 1st. Though the landscape still seems wide open, you can be sure Saban will be on the forefront of finding ways to help his players “create more value for themselves” through their personal brand.
After seven seasons with the Chargers, former Alabama defensive lineman Damion Square has changed NFL teams for the 2021 campaign. An unrestricted free agent, Square has signed with the Cleveland Browns, the NFL team announced on Tuesday afternoon.
In 2020, Square played in every game for the fourth consecutive year. He made one start and recorded 20 tackles, including a sack, while playing 252 defensive snaps, his fewest since 2015, when Square appeared in only six games.
You could be forgiven for forgetting about Damion Square, but the former Tide defensive lineman has quietly been a mainstay in the NFL for the Chargers after making the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2013.
Finally, former Tide linebacker Markail Benton transferred to Jacksonville State last year and is getting to play in the FCS spring ball. Unfortunately, the dude took his SEC tackling training a lllliiiittttlllleeee too far on this one: