Alabama players in 2022 NFL draft: Updated projections, latest news

Months of speculation will come to an end over the coming three days when the NFL holds its 2022 draft in Las Vegas.

Alabama will have its usual large crop of players selected – nine or more are expected – although its first-round class will likely be limited to two after a record-tying six were taken last year.

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The first round of the draft will begin Thursday at 7 pm CT on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network. The second round will begin Friday evening at 6 pm CT, and the fourth round will begin at 11 am CT on Saturday.

Here is a rundown of each Alabama player with a realistic chance to be chosen through the seven-round draft:

OT Evan Neal

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 5 overall, no. 2 OT
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 4 overall, no. 2 OT
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 3 overall, no. 2 OT, first-round grade

What they’re saying: There was a time in February when Neal was widely projected as the No. 1 overall pick, but those predictions began to fizzle when the Jacksonville Jaguars, who own the first pick, assigned former Alabama tackle Cam Robinson the franchise tag in March to retain him another season. Neal did not run at the combine and only took part in positional drills, but not timed drills, during his pro day, later saying NFL teams will judge him based on his tape. Neal’s tape will surely keep him in the top 10 of the draft, but an unnamed NFC executive told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlien, “[Neal] will be a good pro but I do not see him as being the best tackle to come out of this class. He’s getting an Alabama push from (the media), in my opinion. ” One of the scouting knocks against Neal was that he “lacks consistent intensity and attitude,” something Neal addressed in an NFL Network interview earlier this week, saying he did not want his “calm demeanor” to be “mistaken as a lack of aggression.”

However, Neal needed to combat another potential red flag this week when WalterFootball.com reported teams had failed Neal in their medical evaluations, followed by a similar report Tuesday by Sports Illustrated that, “a handful of teams have raised knee and hip issues” about Neal, “with a good number of clubs considering him a notable medical risk.” Neal’s trainer, Duke Manyweather, reacted to the first report by tweeting, “FAKE NEWS! Neal WAS NOT a medical re-check and was medically cleared to combine. Dude has not missed a workout since the national Championship! ” Yet in the latest sign that the Jaguars will pass on Neal first overall, the Jaguars signed Robinson a three-year, $ 54 million extension on Wednesday, indicating Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Georgia’s Travon Walker could be their pick.

WR Jameson Williams

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 13 overall, no. 3 WR
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 13 overall, no. 3 WR
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 13 overall, no. 2 WR, first-round grade

What they’re saying: Williams’ transfer from a niche role at Ohio State to becoming the star of Alabama’s offense earned him discussion as a top-10 pick before his January ACL injury. After it, Williams was predicted as a late first-round pick, with NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks leaving Williams out of the first round entirely on his Jan. 25 version. But unless his NFL team wants to take a very conservative approach, Williams’ recovery from surgery should make him available to play early this season at or near his same level pre-injury, which is typical of modern ACL injury rehabilitation.

The increasing clarity about Williams’ injury – if there was ever a need for it – has contributed to his draft stock rising in recent days. McShay does not expect Williams to fall past No. 16 in the first round, while ProFootballTalk cited an unnamed source this week in saying Williams is “regarded as a player who will be a very high pick.” NFL Network also echoed similar opinions about Williams this week. Former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum, an analyst for ESPN, added fuel to the fire this week when he said he does not expect Williams to fall out of the top 10, comparing his impact on a game to that of now-Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

LB Christian Harris

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 65 overall, no. 6 OLB
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 56 overall, no. 4 ILB
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 46 overall, no. 5 ILB, second-round grade

What they’re saying: Harris ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine, second-fastest among linebackers. The latest example in the evolution of Alabama linebackers, The Athletic labeled him as, “a do-everything breed of linebacker with the multidimensional skill set to drop in coverage, get downhill vs. the run or make plays in the backfield as a blitzer. ” But NFL.com’s Lane Zierlien had questions about Harris’ coverage ability and three-down impact, quoting an NFC personnel director as saying of Harris, “he’s less instinctive and less physical than I’m used to seeing from an Alabama linebacker.”

WR John Metchie

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 57 overall, no. 11 WR
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 55 overall, no. 9 WR
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 71 overall, no. 11 WR, third-round grade

What they’re saying: Metchie was not able to perform at the combine or pro day as he recovers from his ACL injury, making it difficult to pin down his timing in drills. But Metchie was not expected to have standout testing numbers and was labeled by NFL.com’s Lane Zierlien as an, “NFL slot projection with good polish but a lack of noteworthy elements in his game.” Earlier this week, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi tweeted“Talked to multiple front office execs who believe John Metchie, the other Alabama receiver coming off a torn ACL, will not make it out of the 2nd round.”

DL Phidarian Mathis

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 70 overall, no. 6 DT
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 57 overall, no. 5 DT
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 68 overall, no. 6 DL, second-to-third round grade

What they’re saying: A five-year player at Alabama, Mathis will join several other members of Alabama’s decorated 2017 recruiting class in the NFL – one that has already seen a staggering eight first-round picks in Tua Tagovailoa, Jedrick Wills, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones, Najee Harris and Alex Leatherwood. NFL.com’s Lane Zierlien evaluated him as a two-gapping lineman who will likely come off the field on passing downs and is, “more a piece of the front than a standout playmaker.”

CB Jalyn Armor-Davis

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 132 overall, no. 19 CB
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 101 overall, no. 13 CB
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 117 overall, no. 15 CB, third-to-fourth round grade

What they’re saying: Armor-Davis played only one season as a starter at Alabama before entering the draft early, and in addition to a freshman-year knee injury, he missed time at the end of last season because of injury. The Athletic said medicals are the “first thing” NFL teams bring up about Armor-Davis, but there is speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine) and length (6-foot-1) that will attract teams. “Improvement is likely with more experience, so a grade leaning more heavily to traits over tape appears to be necessary,” NFL.com’s Zierlien wrote.

RB Brian Robinson

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 166 overall, no. 10 RB
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 93 overall, no. 5 RB
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 134 overall, no. 7 RB, fourth-to-fifth round grade

What they’re saying: There is not great consensus on rankings for Robinson, who has a chance to come off the board late in Day 2 but is more likely an early Day 3 pick. Reflecting what was generally true at Alabama, Robinson was evaluated by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler as a physical, downhill runner who “is not a proven big-play threat.” NFL.com’s Lane Zierlien said of Robinson, “He is a linear runner who is likely to be utilized as a complementary bulldozer to help wear down defenses, but Robinson might have more potential from sideline to sideline than he receives credit for.”

CB Josh Jobe

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 107 overall, no. 14 CB
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 116 overall, no. 17 CB
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 144 overall, no. 18 CB, fourth-to-fifth round grade

What they’re saying: Like Armor-Davis, Jobe could not finish last season because of an injury, with Jobe later saying of his turf toe, “I was hurt the whole season. It affected me a lot. I had to change my game, I had to change my technique. But I just had to deal with it. I’m a physical corner. I’m a good man-to-man corner. I could not do what I had to do. I had to play soft. ” NFL teams noticed, with one AFC scout telling NFL.com’s Lance Zierlien, “He played with a busted foot for part of the year so I give him credit for that, but he just wasn’t very good (in 2021).” Added Zierlien: “Jobe looks the part as a well-built, long-armed perimeter cornerback, but a disappointing senior season ended up leaving scouts with more questions than answers.” But The Athletic’s Brugler noted, “He has starting potential as a cover-and-clobber NFL corner,” and NFL Network’s Giardi received scout feedback that Jobe could be a draft sleeper.

OLB Christopher Allen

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: No. 204 overall, no. 16 OLB
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 159 overall, no. 10 OLB
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: No. 120 overall, no. 21 edge rusher, fourth-round grade

What they’re saying: Allen played only one season as a starter for Alabama in 2020 and then only part of one game last season because of a foot injury, providing limited film on which NFL teams could evaluate him. The Athletic’s Brugler sees some raw pass-rush ability but added, “Overall, Allen has some tweener traits, and the medicals are a red flag, but he could wind up being a steal as the forgotten prospect in a loaded edge rusher class. He projects as a rotational NFL pass rusher with upside to be more. ” NFL.com’s Zierlien added, “Allen has the traits to play edge in odd or even fronts but additional development is critical if he wants to become more than just a quality rotational defender.”

DL LaBryan Ray

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: not among top 225 overall, no. 23 DT
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 274 overall, no. 24 DE
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: not among top 300 overall, No. 37 edge rusher, priority undrafted free agent grade

What they’re saying: Once a five-star prospect and the state’s top recruit in 2017, Ray simply could not stay healthy in his five seasons at Alabama. NFL.com’s Zierlien wrote, “Ray’s size, strength and two-gapping technique should give him a shot as a 3-4 defensive end. … While his run defense could get him a look, the lack of a translatable pass rush and his long history of lower-body injuries could dampen his chances of making a squad. ”

WR Slade Bolden

Where he’s ranked:

  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper: not among top 225 overall, no. 37 WR
  • ESPN’s Todd McShay: No. 350 overall, no. 41 WR
  • The Athletic’s Dane Brugler: not among top 300 overall, No. 40 wide receiver, priority undrafted free agent grade

What they’re saying: Bolden decided to leave Alabama with eligibility remaining and was invited to the NFL combine, but his 4.66-second 40-yard dash in Indianapolis was the worst among wide receivers. NFL.com’s Zierlien wrote of Bolden, “He does not have the speed or catch radius to help inaccurate passers and he does not appear to have enough talent to shine outside of the Alabama juggernaut,” noting his “below-average suddenness from the slot. ” Even if Bolden does not get drafted, he could get a shot to make an NFL team this summer, with the New England Patriots and Alabama roommate Mac Jones the logical landing spot as an undrafted free agent.

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.

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