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Jumbo Package: Gump Day!

Prepare for the annual Tide takeover of the NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Cincinnati v Alabama Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the NFL Draft coming up in the next couple of days, Alabama will be displaying yet another major recruiting pitch: Come to Alabama and get drafted in the top of your class.

In just two days, Alabama will reach 40 first-round draft picks under coach Nick Saban with offensive tackle Evan Neal and wide receiver Jameson Williams set to hear their names called.

Since Saban took over the program in 2007, Alabama has had 39 players taken in the first round and has produced 106 total picks, the most by any program in college football during that span. The Crimson Tide has had at least one first-round selection in each of the last 13 drafts, the second-longest streak in draft history – trailing only Miami’s 14 from 1995-2008.

In case you lost track of who all has made it in the first round under Saban, Charlie Potter has you covered. There’s a LOT of great players on this list, and there’s about to be two more.

Another top-10 quarterback included the Crimson Tide in his top five last week in Brockwood (Ga.) High four-star Dylan Lonergan. A top-100 recruit, Lonergan is considering South Carolina, Stanford, Ohio State and Florida along with Alabama.

Speaking of recruiting, the Arch Manning sweepstakes is all the talk in the media, but Alabama is also hot on the trail of 5-star Eli Holstein and 4-star Dylan Lonergan. In other words, don’t melt down if the Manning circus goes elsewhere.

The Seattle Seahawks are in the midst of a rebuild after sending star quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver. Rashaad Penny finished the 2021 season strong, but the Seahawks need a trustworthy backup. Selecting Robinson in the third or fourth round would be a smart move for the organization.

Brian Robinson is considered to be a back that is likely to go in the second wave of running backs, somewhere around the 4th round, plus or minus a little. I think he actually fits a decent role as a rotational back who can be a 3rd down pass blocker, a change of pace speed-to-power guy, and a great short yardage specialist.

This article lists both the Seahawks and Bills as good landing spots, so I’ll have to fight Erik over him.

Tiebreakers are sometimes needed at the top of the draft. And when it comes to which offensive lineman goes first Thursday, the medical piece of the equation could be a big one. A handful of teams have raised knee and hip issues to me concerning Alabama OT Evan Neal, with a good number of clubs considering him a notable medical risk.

That doesn’t mean Neal won’t have a good, long career. But I could absolutely see where Jacksonville or Houston, or another team, may look at Neal versus NC State OT Ickey Ekwonu, who has a very clean medical, and take the guy who’s a better bet to last.

A month ago, Evan Neal was often seen as the most likely #1 overall pick, but it’s seemed like fans and media alike have all just silently agreed to start sliding him down the mock drafts with no real explanation. I’ve even started seeing him mocked all the way down as far as the #8-#9 spots.

Now Albert Breer is saying that there are medical concerns with his knees and hips? I can’t remember Neal ever once appearing on Nick Saban’s list of injuries in three years as a starter. So is this legit... Or a concerted smear campaign from the Falcons/Seahawks hoping to pick him up at the back end of the top-10?

It will be interesting to watch.

Will Nick Saban ever retire? I’m not so sure, if we’re being honest. But that doesn’t slow down the annual speculation. This time, it’s Finebaum doing his thing:

I’m giving you an anecdotal conversation. Yeah, they still love Kirby Smart over there. They respect him more than any other coach, other than Nick Saban, and that includes Dabo Swinney. Somebody brought up — a bunch of us were sitting around late, and Dabo Swinney’s name came up. These are all Alabama people. And I looked around this table, and there were about 10 of them — prominent Alabama boosters — and I didn’t see one who felt good about Dabo Swinney taking over for Nick Saban.

“Four years ago, I would’ve told you he’d be the overwhelming pick to be, of a group like. He’s not anymore. Now, what’s happened? I don’t know. A lot of things have happened. But the answer was there really isn’t an answer right now. And timing is really critical.”

Finebaum mentions all the usual suspects that we talk about on message boards all the time: Billy Napier, Mario Cristobal, Lane Kiffin, and even Bill O’Brien. Whatever. I don’t expect any of them. Pete Golding is most likely right now, in my opinion.

In any case, I’m just glad Paul has jumped on the #NeverDabo train.

Finally, I did a preview of Alabama’s prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft with Ed Valentine of Big Blue View. Ed has me join his podcast every year, as the Giants are usually in prime position to pick one of Alabama’s best players. Give it a listen if you have 30 minutes.

Roll Tide!