For those who thought Marlon Humphrey should have returned to Alabama for at least one of the two years of eligibility he had remaining, the Baltimore Ravens said, “He’s ready.” Humphrey, a cornerback, was the first of four Crimson Tide players taken in the first round of the National Football League Draft Thursday.
After Humphrey, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was taken 17th by the Washington Redskins, tight end O.J. Howard went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 19, and linebacker Reuben Foster was the 31st of 32 first round selections, going to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Alabama selections were a major part of draft analysis with various commentators considering Allen, Howard, and Foster as great bargains for the teams selecting them during draft night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The four first round selections for the Crimson Tide are the most for any team in this year’s opening round and equals the most for Alabama in the first round during Bama Coach Nick Saban’s tenure. Four Tide players were drafted in the first round of the 2011 and 2012 drafts.
Alabama has now had 22 players selected in the first round of the last nine drafts. Andre Smith was selected in 2009. Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson were selected in 2010. In 2011, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones, James Carpenter, and Mark Ingram all went in round one, while Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Dont'a Hightower were taken in 2012. Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, and D.J. Fluker were taken in 2013. C.J. Mosley and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went in 2014. Amari Cooper was selected in 2015. Ryan Kelly was taken in 2016.
Humphrey started all 29 games in his Crimson Tide career, earning Freshman All-America honors in 2015 and first team All-America honors last season. The Hoover native and son of former Tide star running back Bobby Humphrey finished 2016 with 36 tackles, five pass break-ups, a forced fumble, and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Humphrey finished his career with five interceptions and 13 pass break-ups along with 81 tackles.
The consensus defensive player of the year in 2016, Allen finished his Alabama career second only to College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas on the Crimson Tide’s career sack list with 28 ½ for 205 yards in losses. The Leesburg, Va., native won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Ted Hendricks Award, and was a unanimous first team All-America selection in 2016. Allen led the Tide in sacks and quarterback hurries last season and returned two of his three fumble recoveries for touchdowns of 75 and 30 yards.
One of the top tight ends in Alabama history, Howard was a first team All-America selection in 2016 and a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top tight end. The Prattville native caught 45 passes for 595 yards and three touchdowns as a senior. Howard cemented his place in Alabama history with his MVP performance in the 2016 College Football Playoff Championship Game when he caught five passes for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson.
Foster was the 2016 Dick Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker and a unanimous first team All-America selection as the signal caller of an Alabama defense that led the nation in rush defense (63.9 ypg) and scoring defense (13.0 ppg). The Auburn native led the Tide with 115 total tackles, including a team-high 94 against the run, along with 13.0 tackles for loss and five sacks. Foster finished his career with 222 total tackles, 123 solo tackles and 24 tackles for loss.
It is difficult to say that any football player selected in the first round of the NFL draft should be disappointed, but it is likely that Foster was severely penalized by off-the-field issues in falling to the 31st pick.
The second and third rounds are Friday and rounds 4-7 Saturday.