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NFL Media's Lance Zierlein compares Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne to Baltimore Ravens DT Brandon Williams.

"Payne possesses one of the most impressive combinations of strength and athleticism that we've seen from an interior lineman," he wrote. Pro Football Focus ranked Williams as the No. 3 run-stuffing 3-4 DE in the NFL last season. The 6-foot-2, 319-pound Payne is also a vicious, powerful run defender. Payne also acquits himself on tape as a player who'll be a better pass-rusher in the NFL than he was at Alabama. With the Tide, he was often asked to eat blocks to clear space for linebackers, a task he's exceptionally good at. An NFL executive told Zierlein that Payne will be a better NFL player than former Tide standout A'Shawn Robinson: "I think A'Shawn Robinson was more talented than Da'Ron (Payne) and I know Robinson had better (tackle-for-loss) and sack production than him, but Payne plays harder and I think he'll be the better NFL player. He's thick and strong, but he's also a really good athlete and I see his best football in front of him."
Source: NFL.com
Feb 19 - 9:39 PM

Pro Football Focus ranks Alabama LB Rashaan Evans as the most productive pass-rusher in the draft class.

Evans was able to achieve success -- a sack, a pressure, a hurry, what have you -- on 21.9 percent of his pass rushes, easily the best of any linebacker in the class who attempted a rush at least 55 times. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound linebacker battled injuries all year, but when healthy, he showed the talent of a legitimate outside linebacker talent. How he performs in his pro day will go a long way towards determining where he'll go in the draft -- his fluctuation is among the highest of any prospect on either side of the ball.
Feb 18 - 4:25 PM

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick second on his updated 2018 NFL draft board.

Fitzpatrick was in the third position in Kiper's previous board, but moves up to second; switching places with NC State edge-rusher Bradley Chubb who is now third. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley remains at the top. Kiper notes Fitzpatrick's versatility, as he's capable of being a center fielder in the backfield or covering one-on-one. " Fitzpatrick had nine career interceptions (including four that were returned for touchdowns), so he has elite ball skills," he writes. "He isn't afraid to make a tackle, either, which is why I think he'll be a top-five pick in April."
Source: ESPN
Feb 16 - 6:12 PM

The Division I Transfer Working Group is considering changes to the transfer rule relating to academic benchmarks and coaching changes.

Even in the NCAA's dry-as-a-cracker press release regarding the Transfer Working Group's early proposed tinkering with the transfer rule, it was specifically stated that the group "never entertained" a rule that would allow all student athletes to transfer without having to sit out a year. Instead, as matters are progressing right now, players who hit "specific, high-achieving academic benchmarks" could potentially be allowed to transfer without sitting, same for players whose coaches leave for new jobs. Per the NCAA's release, a vote on this still-evolving proposal could take place in June.
Source: NCAA.org
Feb 13 - 2:37 PM

Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline believes that Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick is being overrated by many.

Fitzpatrick is considered by many draft analysts to be one of the best -- and safest -- defensive prospects in the class. Pauline may not be one of those analysts. "Fitzpatrick is talented, no doubt, yet my concerns about his game are similar to many of the concerns I’ve had in the past about former Alabama defensive backs -- he can’t make plays with his back to the ball," he writes. "It doesn’t mean he can’t learn the skill; Jalen Ramsey had similar issues leaving Florida State and has since developed into a terrific corner." Many have Fitzpatrick going in the first four-to-seven selections, but there's at least one person out there who doesn't think that he's a sure thing to be a great defender.
Feb 12 - 6:26 PM

Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline believes that Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne is "ridiculously underrated."

He also calls his teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick overrated, which is not a take we've seen much of this spring. Back to Payne. The 6-foot-2, 319-pound defensive tackle didn't always get talked about with the other Alabama stars, but Pauline took notice. "I was just awed by Payne when I broke him down; he’s athletic and powerful and plays smart, disciplined football," Pauline writes. "He collapses the pocket with power, occupies the gaps and even makes plays outside the box." There's a good chance Payne will be one of -- if not the -- first defensive tackles selected come April.
Feb 12 - 4:29 PM

Alabama offensive analyst Shea Tierney is leaving the Crimson Tide to join the Buffalo Bills coaching staff.

Tierney is the third coach from Alabama's staff that will join Buffalo staff from Alabama. Brian Daboll left to become the Bills' offensive coordinator, and a few weeks later, offensive analyst William Vlachos left to join Buffalo in the same capacity. Tierney is expected to join in an analyst role as well. He has previous NFL experience, having spent four years with the Eagles before joining the Crimson Tide.
Feb 12 - 12:16 PM

ESPN's Joel Anderson writes that Alabama sophomore RB Najee Harris will be a breakout star for the Crimson Tide in 2018.

Harris didn't put up huge numbers in 2017 -- 370 yards and three touchdowns -- but the 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back showed flashes playing behind Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, and ran for 64 yards on six carries in the National Championship Game. "When you hand him the ball, you can see the talent," said Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national recruiting director. "As far as being a runner, he's an Adrian Peterson [in college] type of player. His talent as a running back is as high as anyone there in Tuscaloosa." He'll be behind Harris again, but the "other" Harris should get significantly more touches in 2018. It's tough to imagine he won't be a star in the next couple of seasons.
Source: ESPN
Feb 10 - 5:19 PM

Alabama's board of trustees has approved a proposal for a $2 million recruiting lounge.

The Tuscaloosa News relays that "[t]he recruiting lounge will be in 7,447-square-feet of renovated space on the first and second floors of the Mal Moore Athletic Facility. The lounge will primarily be used for football recruiting." The space will eventually include new furniture and improved audio and video installations. Alabama had a quieter-than-expected 2018 recruiting class by their lofty standards, but this proposal for the recruiting lounge was made well before National Signing Day.
Feb 10 - 3:20 PM

Rivals recruiting director Mike Farrell passes along that five-star 2018 CB Patrick Surtain Jr. may have signed with Alabama in part because of job rumors relating to LSU secondary coach Corey Raymond.

There have been recent rumors that Raymond could be looking at a job on staff with Ohio State, though at this point, we've seen nothing concrete relating to that speculation. Surtain (6'2/183) was long an LSU target and priority as the 2018 cycle unfolded, but despite all of their work, he signed with arch rival Alabama on Wednesday.
Source: Rivals
Feb 8 - 2:13 PM

The New York Daily News' Manish Mehta reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in talks with Alabama DL coach Karl Dunbar.

Dunbar has served as defensive line coach in Tuscaloosa for the past two seasons, but previously coached in the NFL ranks for nine campaigns. He's coached up the defensive lines of the Vikings (2006-11) and Jets (2012-14) previously. Should Dunbar leave Alabama, the Tide would like have a replacement ready in relatively short order, as spring practice looms just over the horizon.
Feb 8 - 12:51 PM

Alabama signed uncommitted four-star 2018 WR Jaylen Waddle.

Waddle (5'10/165) was considered a potential signee for Texas A&M entering the week -- Jimbo Fisher had been recruiting him at FSU prior to jumping for the Aggies earlier this winter -- but the allure of the Tide simply ended up being too much for the wideout. He sizzled during the U.S. Army All-American Game practice week back in January thanks to his elite ability to work as a vertical threat. He also offers up a strong pair of mitts. Rivals ranks Waddle as the No. 86 overall prospect in the 2018 class.
Feb 7 - 5:02 PM

Texas A&M signed four-star 2018 DT Bobby Brown, formerly an Alabama commitment.

A long, winding road for Brown, who had initially been committed to Texas A&M up until just before the early signing period in December, when he flipped over to Alabama. Crucially, the 6-foot-4, 270-pounder did not sign with the Tide at the time, allowing him to eventually waft back to the Aggies. ESPN ranks the agile lineman as the No. 15 defensive tackle prospect in the 2018 class.
Feb 7 - 12:40 PM

Alabama signed uncommitted five-star 2018 CB Patrick Surtain Jr.

This one stings majorly for LSU, who had been pursuing Surtain for some time only to see him commit to one of their bitter conference rivals. The 6-foot-2, 183-pounder could use a little added playing weight, but already has the look of an SEC corner and a future NFL player. Rivals ranks Surtain as the No. 8 overall prospect in the 2018 class. It's a strong signing for Alabama, who entered National Signing Day lagging at the fringe of the top-10 in terms of team rankings.
Feb 7 - 12:13 PM

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projects the Buccaneers to select Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick with the seventh pick in his latest mock draft.

This is one of the "lower" spots we've seen Fitzpatrick go, as many draft analysts have him going fourth to the Browns with their second first-round pick. Miller says that those who he's spoken with compare him to Jalen Ramsey and Micah Hyde, and his talent is probably somewhere in between. "The run on quarterbacks benefits the Buccaneers, as my No. 2-ranked player falls into their laps at pick No. 7," he writes. "Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick is the versatile, attacking safety this defense so badly needs."
Feb 5 - 4:24 PM


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