Four Alabama underclassmen declare for NFL draft
Four Alabama underclassmen announced their decision to enter the 2021 NFL draft. Defensive lineman Christian Barmore, quarterback Mac Jones, defensive back Patrick Surtain II and receiver Jaylen Waddle will all be moving on from the Crimson Tide to pursue their professional careers.
“We want all players here to make a decision about their future based on business and what is the best business decision for them,” head coach Nick Saban said. “Not an emotional decisions about continuing to play at Alabama or having this dream and desire to play in the NFL, but to make good business decisions about what makes sense for them.
“I’m very proud of the way these four young men have contributed to the program here, winning two SEC championships and a national championship as well as extending 10-win seasons for 13 years, and finishing in the top 10 for 13 years. All these guys made great contributions to the team — not only in their performance on the field, but how they bought into the principles and values of the program, the leadership they demonstrated by the example they set and work ethic they had, and the production that they were able to play with."
Here's a look at all four players.
Barmore is headed to the NFL after playing just two seasons for Alabama. After earning Freshman All-SEC honors in 2019, he took his game to another level this past season, leading the Tide with eight sacks while ranking third on the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss. He also tallied a team-high three forced fumbles and recorded six quarterback hurries.
Barmore was named defensive MVP of Monday night’s national championship game after recording five tackles, including a sack and two stops for a loss. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound defensive tackle has been projected in the mid-to-late first round in several NFL mock drafts.
What he had to say: “This was a very difficult decision for me because I love my brothers, the fans, and I love playing football at Alabama. But after sitting down with my family and talking to my coaches I have decided to enter the 2021 draft. This was a decision that me and my family prayed on, and we decided that it was the right time for me to move on to the NFL.”
In his first full year as starter, Jones put together the best-ever season by an Alabama quarterback. The redshirt junior threw for a school-best 4,500 yards while breaking the NCAA’s single-season records in completion percentage (77.4) and quarterback efficiency rating (203.06). His 41 passing touchdowns were just two away from tying Tua Tagovailoa’s school single-season mark set over 15 games in 2018.
Jones also set an Alabama record with five 400-yard games, including the Tide’s national championship win over Ohio State on Monday when he competed 36 of 45 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns. His 36 completions and 464 yards through the air in that game were both national championship records.
Following his breakout season this past year, Jones has seen his name mentioned in the first round of several NFL mock drafts.
What he had to say: “I played on four great teams here. My role has changed each year but [my teammates] have supported me all along the way. It’s really tough to leave you guys, but Coach Saban will lead you all and you guys will create your own legacy. I’m looking forward to watching that.”
Patrick Surtain II
The son of a former three-time Pro Bowler, Surtain is now set to follow in his father’s footsteps in the NFL. The five-star cornerback lead Alabama’s secondary this season, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors while recording a team-high 12 pass deflections to go with an interception which he returned 25 yards for a touchdown against Mississippi State. He also tallied 38 stops, including 3.5 tackles for a loss.
Surtain earned defensive MVP honors in the Rose Bowl after he recorded three tackles, including a half a stop for a loss, with a pass breakup during Alabama’s 31-14 victory over Notre Dame. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound defensive back is projected as an early first-rounder in this year’s NFL draft.
What he had to say: “It was very emotional, this decision, all and all, it’s the next step in my life. But I’m going to miss the brotherhood, the comradery we have here. I’m just going to miss all the memories we built here and everything we had at Alabama. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be here, and I’m going to miss it.”
After making his return from an ankle injury during Monday night’s national championship game, Waddle’s time at Alabama has come to a close. The junior receiver fractured his ankle during the opening kickoff against Tennessee on Oct. 24, forcing him to miss eight games this past season. Still, Waddle finished with 28 receptions for 591 yards and four touchdowns over five full games.
On top of his receiving ability, Waddle was the nation’s leading punt returner last season, averaging a school-record 24.35 yards per return, including a 77-yard touchdown against LSU. He also returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score during the 2019 Iron Bowl. Despite his injury, the 5-foot-11, 182-pound receiver is projected to be selected in the first round.
What he had to say: “First off, I would like to thank God. Without Him, none of this is possible. I’d like to thank my family for just keeping my head on straight and just keeping me humble in everything that I do. I’d like to thank the coaches here, Coach Saban for allowing me to play here, Coach [Holmon] Wiggins for teaching me so much in my 2-3 years here.
“To my teammates, it’s been a journey. I’ll miss ya’ll the most. The days, the hard work, the complaining, all that good stuff. Man, I’m going to miss y’all boys.”