The 2021 college football season ended late Monday night, and the focus quickly shifted to the 2022 campaign. One of the first orders of business is the decisions of draft-eligible players of whether to stay in school or turn pro. The deadline for underclassmen is Monday, Jan. 17, and several Alabama players will sit down with
Nick Saban this week to discuss their futures.
With less than a week until the deadline, and with no one making a public announcement yet, we take a look at the Crimson Tide positions with multiple players facing draft decisions.
One of the most interesting positions to watch over the coming days will be wide receiver. Had
John Metchie and
Jameson Williams not suffered ACL injuries, they likely both declare for the draft as juniors after each topping 1,000 yards this season. But they did suffer ACL injuries this postseason, which gives pause to the idea that they’re as good as gone. Williams was widely projected as a first-round pick, and even after the setback, which he is expected to fully recover from, he could still turn pro – the same for Metchie. But the choice isn’t as clear.
Slade Bolden is also draft-eligible but is not expected to test those waters. If both Metchie and Williams leave school early, Bolden will be the Crimson Tide’s most experienced wideout next season and will lead a position group that will rely on plenty of young players in starting and top reserve roles. If that duo does indeed declare, it’s possible that
Nick Saban and company look to the transfer portal again, much like it did for Williams, for help at wide receiver.
Of the eight linemen that started games this fall, five are eligible to enter the draft. One of those,
Tommy Brown , already entered the transfer portal, so that leaves
Emil Ekiyor and
Chris Owens . Using his free COVID year in 2021, Owens can’t come back for a seventh season, so he will be moving on. Neal is projected as a top-five pick and, barring a surprise, will enter the draft. Ekiyor will have a decision to make after his second season in the starting lineup, as will Dalcourt, who didn’t play in Alabama’s final three games.
With all of that in mind, the Tide will have to replace at least two starters on its offensive line this spring and summer with both tackles moving on. The offseason will be an important time for the young offensive tackles on the roster to grow and develop into SEC-level starters. If the others return, Alabama will have an inexperienced interior to its offensive line next season.
The defensive line list starts with redshirt senior
Phidarian Mathis , who could come back for a sixth season with a COVID year but has accepted a Senior Bowl invite and stated several times that this would be his last season. His play this fall should have improved his stock.
LaBryan Ray could also return after redshirting in 2019. His decision will be an intriguing one given that he hasn’t been healthy since he stepped on campus but played well down the stretch for the Crimson Tide. Should Ray return to UA, he would be a sixth-year senior in 2022.
Alabama also has three junior defensive linemen on its roster in
DJ Dale ,
Justin Eboigbe and
Byron Young . All three have seen extensive playing time over the last three seasons and would continue to do so if they returned to Tuscaloosa for their senior years. They have until Monday to decide. Redshirt junior
Stephon Wynn is also draft-eligible, but given that he only played in seven games as a reserve this season, a jump to the NFL would be a surprise.
A few UA linebackers have draft decisions to make, including both of the Tide’s starting inside ‘backers.
Christian Harris and
Henry To'o To'o started every game in the middle of the defense and could definitely elect to move on to the next level. Getting one, or certainly both, back for the 2022 campaign would be big for Alabama and could affect a player like senior
Jaylen Moody who could return for a fifth season if a starting spot is available. Junior
Shane Lee could also turn pro, but he hasn’t filled a starting role since his true freshman year in 2019.
As for the outside linebackers, the Crimson Tide will welcome back
Will Anderson and
Dallas Turner , which is huge for the defense. Could someone like
Christopher Allen , who started the season opener but missed the next 14 games with a foot injury, choose to return for a sixth year in 2022? He will be one of the most fascinating players to follow over the coming days in terms of his decision.
King Mwikuta is also eligible but entered the transfer portal Tuesday.
Five Alabama defensive backs could be moving on this offseason, including both starters at the safety and cornerback positions and one of the Tide’s top reserves. At safety,
Jordan Battle and
DeMarcco Hellams are juniors and could turn pro ahead of the deadline. Battle seems like the most likely of the two, but both players will be worth monitoring this week. Redshirt senior
Daniel Wright participated in Senior Day but could choose to use a free year.
Josh Jobe and
Jalyn Armour-Davis weren’t on the field for the national title game due to turf toe and hip injuries, respectively. Both players made 11 starts this fall and could both jump to the NFL after their fourth years in the program. But they could also choose to return. It seems unlikely that both players are back in Tuscaloosa next season, but their decisions will be ones to watch. Should neither be on the roster in 2022, Alabama will turn to guys like
Terrion Arnold and
Eli Ricks at corner.
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Source : https://247sports.com/college/alabama/Article/Alabama-Football-position-groups-with-several-looming-2022-NFL-draft-decisions-180454556/1487