As all college football fans know, the University of Alabama is the cream of the crop. Consistently one of the country’s best teams, Alabama is able to stay competitive due to mass amounts of NFL-level talent. The Las Vegas Raiders have frequently dipped into this well. The 2023 NFL Draft will provide Dave Ziegler and Co. another chance to do so.
Recently, Amari Cooper, Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs III, and Alex Leatherwood are former Crimson Tide members whom the Raiders selected in the first round. While these picks have certainly come with varying degrees of success, no one will debate the quality of prospects that Nick Saban and his staff produce.
In 2023, Alabama once again has an elite crop of athletes ready to join the NFL ranks. In fact, their quarterback Bryce Young could be the first player taken. Certainly, a potential option for the Raiders, Young will likely be gone by the time they make their first selection. These three players, however, could look great in Silver and Black.
NFL Draft: Dave Ziegler and the Raiders need to keep tabs on this Alabama batch…
Will Anderson Jr. (EDGE)
Regarded by some as the best player in the draft, it would take some luck for Anderson to land in Las Vegas. A likely first-round selection as a sophomore last season, he returned to Alabama and recorded another ten-sack season, all but ensuring he will be the first edge player selected.
For the Raiders, the appeal is obvious. With Chandler Jones entering his age-33 season, he may be best served as a rotational pass rusher at this point. This leaves the team with, yet again, a hole across from Maxx Crosby.
Make no mistake, Anderson is not yet fully developed as a pass rusher. Still, he and Crosby would give the Raiders an electric, young pass-rushing tandem that will benefit from Jones’s tutelage and juice off the bench.
Will Anderson had 207 total pressures across his 3 years at Alabama.
Aidan Hutchinson had 128 in 4 years at Michigan.
Chase Young had 150 in 3 years at Ohio State.
Myles Garrett had 164 in 3 years at Texas A&M.
Long story short, the Alabama edge rusher is SPECIAL ðŸ”¥ pic.twitter.com/NA5QhAmQuF
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) February 5, 2023
Jahmyr Gibbs (Running Back)
One Alabama running back supplanting another? It’s a possibility if the team elects not to re-sign Josh Jacobs this offseason. A notion that may seem crazy to some after a league-leading 1,653 rushing yards and twelve touchdowns. However, the value of running backs is often debated and it is not clear where the current regime stands.
In Gibbs, the Raiders would be getting a different style of back. Experienced running with lots of outside zone, Gibbs uses his high-end speed to burn defenses to the edge. As a receiver, Gibbs is perhaps the best receiving back in the class. As we saw in New England, Josh McDaniels used receiving backs often.
A likely second-round selection, Gibbs is a tremendously talented running back prospect who can keep the Raiders relevant on the ground for the next several seasons. He would also produce at a level similar to Jacobs for a fraction of the cost.
I'd love to see the Eagles take Jahmyr Gibbs with the 31st pick. With Hurts running behind a top offensive line, he will absolutely dominate the RPO. pic.twitter.com/Q0cKf2QleC
— FFSnoog (@FFSnoog) January 30, 2023
Brian Branch (Safety)
A three-year contributor for the Crimson Tide, Branch is considered by many to be the best safety in the class. At his best playing in the box and attacking in the run game, he contributes in the pass game as well, with two interceptions last season. In Las Vegas, he would slot in next to third-year safety Trevon Moehrig. With his ability to be physical in the box, he would give Patrick Graham a unique chess piece to play with.
A difficult projection due to positional value, but the Raiders may be able to snag him in the second round of the NFL draft. If they move back in the first, Branch becomes a realistic option later in the round. In dire need of a playmaker on defense, Branch could give them what they need.
I donâ€™t care how. Get Brian Branch in a #Packers jersey asap. pic.twitter.com/Q48ZLkNPis
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) January 23, 2023
Top Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images