With the college bowl and playoff season here, and Alabama failing to qualify for the college football playoffs despite winning 45-20 in the Sugar Bowl against Kansas State, many of its top players of the last few seasons have decided to enter their names for the 2023 NFL Draft. Those players include former Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, linebacker Will Anderson Jr., running back Jahmyr Gibbs, and safety Brian Branch.
Young is projected to be the No.1 pick in the draft to the Houston Texans according to ESPN’s Todd McShay as the Texans have the best odds to select No.1 at 55.7%, according to Football Power Index. Young finished with 3,328 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, and five interceptions this season with an 85.9 QBR rating. He’s been compared to Arizona Cardinals star quarterback Kyler Murray due to his miniature stature but elite quickness.
Young isn’t alone as an elite prospect from the Crimson Tide as Anderson is projected to be a top-three pick in the draft and is the top defensive prospect in the class after winning back-to-back Bronko Nagurski awards for the nation's top defensive player. Anderson led the SEC in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (19.5) this season, including leading the nation in pressures (50).
The other two prospects in Gibbs and Branch are projected to be first-round picks as well. Gibbs was a transfer from Georgia Tech who led Alabama in rushing yards (926) and receptions (44) this season. Lastly, Branch is a defensive back who proved to be one of the best in the nation alongside Anderson, forming a fearsome defensive duo. He accumulated 76 tackles (eight for loss) this season. Branch also broke up seven passes, seven pressures, six-run stops, and two sacks on the season.
All four showed their competitiveness by deciding to play in the Sugar Bowl, Young stood out among the competition in a big game once again in a riveting way by throwing for 321 yards with a 71% completion rate and five touchdowns, showing why he is projected to be the top overall pick come April.
Young broke out as a sophomore last season when he won the Heisman trophy after throwing for 47 touchdowns while leading Alabama to the SEC championship and a National Championship appearance in which they lost to Georgia.
There should be more Alabama names to enter the draft pool as the draft season continues to approach, but one thing is for sure, Alabama continues to be a pipeline factory for high-end NFL talent that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.