Projection of Bryce Young, Alabama stars

Though Alabama failed to make the college football playoffs for the first time since 2019 and only the second time since the playoffs were introduced in 2014, Alabama still had a roster full of NFL talent. These players have now retired from their respective Crimson Tide careers. They will now move on to bigger and better things via the NFL Draft on Sunday afternoon.

With the draft order for the first half of the first round set, we can get a sense of who might go where. For the purposes of this hypothesis, we assume that no first-pick deal was struck with the Chicago Bears on draft night and that they hold it. Although I readily admit that this may not be the case.

Currently, three players from Alabama are expected to be drafted into the first round of the NFL draft. They may be drafted here in a few months.

3. Brian Branch, DB-Packers, 15th overall

Brian Branch turned out to be exactly the kind of defender Nick Saban drools over. He has a commanding presence in the secondary paired with positional versatility and excellent tackling ability. You have to assume that Branch will go pretty high. It can be used either as a nickel corner or as a security. There are many teams with this need that might be interested in him.

The team that I think would be best positioned to pick him right now would be the Green Bay Packers in 15th overall. They need back-end help and are well-equipped to capitalize on it when prospects like Georgia’s Kelee Ringo and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon leave the board, which is likely.

2. Will Anderson, EDGE Cardinals, third overall

Will Anderson has been one of the most dominant pass rushers in the country for each of the past three seasons. He looks like one of the best talents we’ve seen out of college in the last decade or so. He has elite speed and hands and a talent for hitting the passer that you just can’t train into a player.

Anderson is a player the Bears would certainly consider first, but they would probably be best served if they picked Georgia’s Jalen Carter to cover the inside of their defensive line. With the retirement of JJ Watt, the Cardinals certainly need the talent on the fringes. Anderson provides them with plenty of that and could prove to be something very special at the NFL level.

1. Bryce Young, QB-Texans, runner-up overall

Remember how I said we expect the Bears to retain the first overall pick of the NFL draft? That was just so I didn’t have to speculate on which team would actually make the trade and pick Bryce Young. If someone trades for first choice, there is a very good chance they can take Young.

If the Bears stay in first place overall, as we assume here, the Houston Texans would likely sprint up their card and put it right into Roger Goodell’s hands. They’re a team starving for a franchise quarterback following Deshaun Watson’s departure.

Bryce Young has all the tools to be that guy. The mobility, the arm, that sixth sense of where to put the ball that everyone’s been looking for in quarterbacks since they first saw Patrick Mahomes. Bryce Young has it all.