The examination of Alabama players considered among the best at various positions has moved to the defensive side, and along with that the notification that Crimson Tide fans will also be seeing some of the nation’s finest players on opposing teams this year.
Alabama lost one of the nation’s best defensive ends from last year with the graduation of Jarran Reed. But just as Reed had done following the 2014 season, one of the most productive players on Bama’s 2015 defensive line, Jonathan Allen, elected to forego early entry into the NFL draft pool and return to Alabama for his senior season.
It is no surprise that Allen, a first team All-Southeastern Conference performer a year ago, is ranked among the nation’s best defensive ends for the 2016 season. Allen, 6-3, 294, was named to the Bednarik Watch List this week as one of the nation’s best defensive players regardless of position.
Last year he ranked second in the SEC and 17th in the nation with 12 sacks among his 14 ½ tackles for loss. He also broke up four passes and had six quarterback pressures.
While Allen is ranked as high as second in the nation at his position, Bama will also see the defensive end ranked first in the nation this year when the Tide plays Texas A&M and its outstanding junior end Myles Garrett.
Others among the nation’s top defensive ends who will be facing Bama are junior Marquis Haynes of Ole Miss, junior Derek Barnett of Tennessee, senior Lewis Neal of LSU, and junior Deatrich Wise of Arkansas.
Junior Charles Harris of Missouri and senior Bryan Cox of Florida are other SEC defensive ends who are ranked among the nation’s best.
And perhaps a surprise, so is Alabama junior Da’Shawn Hand, who could be moving into a starting job this year after having been a back-up on the Bama defensive line.