Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

10 Alabama football players hear their names called at the NFL draft

CW / Riley Thompson
Kool-Aid McKinstry was drafted to the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

After this year’s NFL draft in Detroit, Michigan, former Alabama football head coach Nick Saban can say that he has produced 52 first-round picks throughout his legendary coaching career.  

For the 18th straight year, the Southeastern Conference had the most players selected in the draft out of every conference as 59 players from the SEC were drafted. Ten of those players were from the Alabama Crimson Tide, and three heard their name called on Day 1.  

Offensive lineman JC Latham selected seventh overall by the Tennessee Titans 

The Titans drafted Latham to add some much-needed protection for quarterback Will Levis. Adding a player like Latham to the offensive line can contribute to the development of a young quarterback, and his ability to block downhill runs will help running back Tony Pollard create positive plays in the ground game.  

“He was a great leader on our team. But you talk about being physical and dominate the line of scrimmage, I mean, this guy is as powerful as anybody we’ve ever had. When he gets his hands on you, you’ve had it,” Saban said on ABC’s NFL draft coverage.  

Latham became Saban’s 50th first-round draft pick, but the count did not stop there.  

Linebacker Dallas Turner selected 17th overall by the Minnesota Vikings 

Turner was the 2023 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, and he is the current favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year this upcoming season.  

Draft analysts projected that the Atlanta Falcons were going to pick Turner on Day 1, but the Falcons decided to go in a different direction and picked a quarterback. Turner unexpectedly slid down the draft board, but the Minnesota Vikings snatched him up with the 17th overall pick. 

“You’ve got to have relentless effort to be a great pass rusher, and he is relentless in the way he goes after the quarterback,” Saban said. 

Cornerback Terrion Arnold selected 24th overall by the Detroit Lions  

Arnold becomes the third consecutive Alabama player to be selected in the first round by the Lions. Detroit picked wide receiver Jameson Williams 12th overall in 2022 and running back Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall in 2023. 

“This guy’s a special guy,” Saban said. “He’s got a great personality. Everybody loves him. He started the whole LANK thing, and he followed that and really committed himself to being the best player he could be, being the best leader,” the former coach added, referring to a slogan, short for “Let All Naysayers Know,” that became popular among Alabama players and fans during the most recent college football season. 

Arnold’s friendship with Saban’s wife, Terry Saban, caught the attention of many Alabama fans. His wholesome interactions with the Sabans showcased his charismatic personality.  

Arnold is a solid fit for the Lions’ defensive strategy and will give the defensive play callers more flexibility because of his ability to cover receivers man-to-man. He will get to play with Alabama alum Brian Branch. 

Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry selected 41st overall by the New Orleans Saints 

McKinstry, a multiyear starter at Alabama, caught the eye of NFL scouts with his great length and size for his position. Scouts also loved him because of his ability to quickly get in phase and in the hip pockets of receivers. On top of that, McKinstry has great play recognition and vision. 

“He’s really smart and instinctive. I think that’s why he is going to be a really good player. He’s probably more ready to play than anybody else,” Saban said.  

After he got drafted, news broke that McKinstry is partnering with Kool-Aid to create a limited-edition “Black Cherry Blitz” flavor.  

Linebacker Chris Braswell selected 57th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Braswell played opposite fellow edge rusher Turner on the defensive line, adding even more pressure on college quarterbacks this season. The Buccaneers add Braswell to an already stout front seven. 

“He is really, really a good player, a great pass rusher, can turn speed into power and make some big-time plays,” Saban said. 

Braswell’s ability to attack a blocker’s weak-side shoulder and punch the ball out of the hands of a ball carrier will bring much-needed big-play potential to Tampa Bay’s defense. Braswell’s strip sack on Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III led to a game-defining fumble recovery touchdown that gave Alabama the victory over Tennessee this past season. 

Wide receiver Jermaine Burton selected 80th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals 

The Bengals gave quarterback Joe Burrow another weapon as they drafted Burton in the third round. The Bengals’ front office is not sure about Tee Higgins’ future with the team, so it made it an objective to select another pass catcher in case it must trade Higgins.  

Burton started his career as a Georgia Bulldog before transferring to Alabama. There is always a chance of a big play when Burton is on the field. He caught the touchdown that helped Alabama extend its lead over Georgia in the Crimson Tide’s 2023 SEC championship victory.  

“He’s a tremendous competitor. He’s got great quickness. He’s got really good speed. He can come in and out of a break. He can beat man-to-man,” Saban said. 

Defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe selected 105th overall by the Los Angeles Chargers 

Former Michigan head coach and new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh remembered Eboigbe’s Rose Bowl performance this year and selected the 6-foot-4-inch 297-pounder to strengthen the Chargers defense.  

Eboigbe’s arm length and ability to fight through multiple blockers makes him a great fit for the Chargers as he will play alongside Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, two of the greatest defensive linemen in the league. 

Eboigbe had a season-ending spine injury in 2022, but he worked hard for 10 months to make his comeback to football.  

“Justin Eboigbe being able to comeback from the injury that he had, what he had to overcome to be able to come back, the great job our mental staff did to help him be able to come back, the specialists that he went to that put them in a position to be able to come back — I mean, it speaks volumes of the character that he has,” Saban said. 

Running back Jase McClellan selected 186th overall by the Atlanta Falcons 

McClellan is heading to Atlanta to lighten the load of starting running back Bijan Robinson. With Cordarrelle Patterson departing from the team in the offseason, a spot was opened in the running back room. McClellan will add much-needed depth to the Falcons roster.  

McClellan is a patient runner with great vision as a ball carrier, and his hands make him a solid option in passing scenarios.  

McClellan may not be the biggest running back, but his toughness makes him the perfect type of player to play under new Falcons head coach Raheem Morris. 

Kicker Will Reichard selected 203rd overall by the Minnesota Vikings 

The Vikings landed the NCAA all-time leading scorer in the sixth round. Reichard was the first placekicker off the board in this year’s draft, and he joins his Alabama teammate Turner in Minnesota. Reichard being drafted means that Saban has sent a player from every position to the NFL. 

The Vikings have a history of losing important games due to missed field goals, so they will rely on Reichard to reverse the curse.  

At Alabama, Reichard rarely missed a field goal, and he stepped up in key moments when the Crimson Tide needed a game-winning kick. His clutch ability can make a huge difference on whether the Vikings make or miss the playoffs. 

Defensive back Jaylen Key selected 257th overall by the New York Jets 

The fifth-year senior is heading to New York to play alongside superstar cornerback Sauce Gardner in the secondary. Key is this season’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” a title given to the player selected with the final pick in each year’s draft. There are not many expectations for a player chosen last, but he could follow in the footsteps of 2022 “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy and earn a permanent starting position in his rookie season.  

Key is a versatile safety who can bring run support to the Jets defense no matter where he lines up on the field. Key is also the final player from the Nick Saban era to be selected in the NFL draft.  

Offensive lineman Darrian Dalcourt signs with the Baltimore Ravens after draft 

Although Dalcourt did not hear his name called on the draft stage, the Ravens sought after him once the draft concluded and signed him.  

Dalcourt played center for two years at Alabama before he switched to right guard for his final season in 2023. He will provide depth for the Ravens at multiple positions on the offensive line. 

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