Alabama coach Nick Saban has plenty of experience replacing star players who declare early for the NFL Draft, and this offseason will be no different. Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Irv Smith and offensive lineman Jonah Williams all declared for the 2019 draft on Friday during a press conference at the school.

Williams burst onto the scene in 2018 as one of the top players in all of college football. A relatively unknown piece of the Crimson Tide defensive puzzle heading into the season, Williams racked up 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. He won the Outland Trophy awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman, was a unanimous All-American and the centerpiece of the Crimson Tide defensive front. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound redshirt sophomore is listed as the No. 2 overall prospect in the CBS Sports updated list of draft prospects behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, and went No. 2 overall to the Oakland Raiders in Chris Trapasso’s latest mock draft

Jacobs emerged as one of the most versatile weapons on the Crimson Tide offense. The lightly-recruited, 5-foot-10, 204-pound native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, rushed for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 20 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns and had 428 kickoff return yards with one score. He is the 72nd-ranked player in our prospect rankings and the No. 5 running back behind teammates Damien Harris, David Montgomery, Justice Hill and Bryce Love. 

Like Jacobs, Irv Smith thrived in the more passing-friendly offense in 2018. At 6-foot-4, 241 pounds, Smith’s size made him a mismatch against safeties and his speed made it impossible for linebackers to keep him in check. He caught 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns en route to recording the most prolific season by a tight end during Saban’s tenure in Tuscaloosa. He is ranked second among tight ends eligible for the draft and ranks No. 65 overall.

Williams was a starter at right tackle during his first game as a freshman in 2016 and never looked back. He was a consistent force along the Crimson Tide offensive line during his freshman year on the right side, and the following two seasons at the critical left tackle spot. He started all 43 games of his Crimson Tide career (28 at left tackle, 15 at right tackle) and was a unanimous All-American during the 2018 campaign. Williams is the top-ranked tackle in the 2018 draft, and went No. 8 overall to the Buffalo Bills in Trapasso’s latest mock draft.

“Williams is as NFL-ready as they come at the tackle position,” Trapasso wrote.

Saban has proved throughout his career that losing superstars early to the NFL isn’t a problem, and he’ll have to repeat the feat in 2019 after these four members of the SEC champs have decided to move on.


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