The show goes on for Alabama football. Even when the season and spring practice has ended, the Crimson Tide still stays in the spotlight.
Former Alabama players will find their professional destinations this weekend at the 2018 NFL draft. Alabama has up to 15 players who could be chosen during the draft if everything falls into place. That would break a national record set by Ohio State when 14 Buckeyes were chosen in the 2004 draft.
A more likely mark to shoot for is Alabama’s school record of 10 players chosen in a single draft. That mark was set just last year.
2018 NFL Draft
Schedule: First round Thursday at 7 p.m.
Second and third rounds Friday at 6 p.m.
Fourth through seventh rounds Saturday at 11 a.m.
Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
TV: ESPN and NFL Network
The group is headlined by defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is unanimously projected as a first-round draft pick and could be the first defensive back taken. No Alabama defensive back has ever been chosen higher than No. 7 overall (Mark Barron in 2012). Fitzpatrick could go higher than that.
“It would be an honor to be the highest drafted DB to play under Coach Saban,” Fitzpatrick said in an email to The Tuscaloosa News this week. “Coach has coached some great DBs so it would be an awesome accomplishment if I could be drafted the earliest.”
Fitzpatrick and linebacker Rashaan Evans are among the 22 players that will attend the draft in person in Arlington, Texas.
“For me it was an easy call,” Fitzpatrick said. “It has been something that I have watched for years now. So once I received the invitation it was a no brainer.”
Fitzpatrick said his immediate family will attend with him. He’s planning on wearing a suit that pays tribute to his family for the draft.
“On draft night I’m partnering with Collection by Michael Strahan and JCPenney,” he said. “I’m wearing an off white double breasted coat with black details. The lining of my coat has a quote created by family and a picture drawn by my older sister.”
Fitzpatrick appeals to teams with his versatility, athleticism and intangibles. He was a two-time All-American at Alabama in 2016. He also won the 2017 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player.
“I think Minkah is sort of a rare commodity in the fact that he’s such a gifted athlete and has such a great personality,” coach Nick Saban said on ESPN’s Get Up! on Wednesday morning. “He’s such a competitive guy that’s a pleasure to coach in everything that he does. He’s really an overachiever for a guy that’s a fantastic athlete. That’s a rare combination, I think, in this day and age. He has high goals and aspirations for what he wants to do, and I think he meets all the critical factors for what you look for in a DB. He’s a good tackler, he has great ball skills, can play man-to-man. I think he’s going to be a great player for someone.”
Evans, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne are also widely projected as first-round picks. Defensive back Ronnie Harrison is also a first-round pick in some projections.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.