Days after a lopsided national championship victory, Alabama will see several of its starters make the expected jump to the NFL. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore announced Thursday they will enter the 2021 draft.
All four are projected first-round picks, according to ESPN.com’s Todd McShay. Surtain, Jones and Waddle will respectively forgo their senior seasons, while Barmore will leave two Crimson Tide years on the table. Surtain and Waddle have appeared in first-round mocks for a while now; it is not out of the question both join Heisman winner DeVonta Smith as top-10 picks.
Waddle will land alongside Smith and LSU opt-out Ja’Marr Chase atop the receiver prospects in what is expected to be another deep wideout class. While Waddle saw an ankle fracture interrupt his final Alabama season, he suited up against Ohio State — albeit at far less than 100% — and should be expected to go off the board fairly early in the draft. Smith and Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards per catch this season, will follow ex-Crimson Tide teammates Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round prospects. Waddle is not certain to be ready for the Combine or pre-draft workouts, however.
An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed this season. He will follow his father, Patrick Surtain, into the pros. The elder Surtain was a longtime NFL corner who became a Dolphins second-round pick in 1998. McShay has the younger Surtain and Barmore going off the board at 10th and 27th overall, respectively. The latter recorded eight sacks this season.
At Alabama during Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa‘s starting tenures, Jones took over late last season after Tagovailoa’s hip injury. Despite the COVID-19-altered season limiting Alabama to 13 games total, Jones set a program record with 4,500 passing yards and finished with a 77% completion rate and a 41-4 TD-INT ratio. He will join Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, BYU’s Zach Wilson and (likely) Ohio State’s Justin Fields as surefire Round 1 prospects.
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