Alabama football fall practice preview: John Metchie III leads fresh group of receivers

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

It's no secret that Alabama football has produced some of the best receivers in college football the past few years. 

With four first-round picks the past two years, it will be difficult to sustain, even for Alabama. Will this group of receivers be able to play at the high level of recent Crimson Tide receivers? 

Here's a look at Alabama receivers and tight ends heading into this season's practices, set to start on Friday, Aug. 6. 

Alabama receivers

Departed starters: DeVonta Smith (drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles), Jaylen Waddle (drafted by the Miami Dolphins)

Returnees: Javon Baker (sophomore), Slade Bolden (redshirt junior), Bret Bolin (redshirt junior), Traeshon Holden (sophomore), Thaiu Jones-Bell (sophomore), Grant Krieger (junior), John Metchie III (junior), C.J. Williams (sophomore), Shatarius Williams (sophomore), Sam Willoughby (sophomore)

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Additions: Jacoby Boykins (freshman), Ja'Corey Brooks (freshman), Greg Carroll Jr. (sophomore), JoJo Earle (freshman), Agiye Hall (freshman), Christian Leary (freshman), DJ Rias (sophomore), Jameson Williams (junior)

Analysis: The receiver position might have the most question marks heading into the season of any position group. Losing two first-round picks at the position will have that effect. Waddle missing time allowed for Metchie to get even more experience in his sophomore season, and Metchie will now have the chance to be the No. 1 receiver in an offense that will feature many new faces from a year ago. Who joins him in the lineup remains to be seen. Alabama might choose to go with experience over youth early on, especially as it breaks in a young quarterback. Watch early to see how the Crimson Tide uses Jameson Williams. Saban and Metchie raved about him at SEC Media Days, talking about the juice and speed the transfer from Ohio State brings to the offense. 

Alabama tight ends

Departed starter: Miller Forristall (undrafted, Tennessee Titans)

Returners: Jahleel Billingsley (junior), Melvin Billingsley (senior), Robert Ellis (sophomore), Richard Hunt (redshirt sophomore), Cameron Latu (redshirt junior), Charlie Skehan (sophomore), Major Tennison (redshirt senior)

Additions: Caden Clark (freshman), Robbie Ouzts (freshman), Adam Thorsland (freshman)

Analysis: Jahleel Billingsley could be in line for a breakout year at tight end, working with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. Latu also has a chance to make an impact in his redshirt junior year, showing off his ability to run after the catch in the spring game with a 59-yard touchdown. Tennison returns as the senior-most member of the group.