Day 1 of the NFL Draft has come and gone with Alabama having four players taken.
Defensive back/safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was the first Alabama player chosen, going 11th overall to the Miami Dolphins. Fitzpatrick is the highest drafted Tide player since 2015 when the Oakland Raiders selected Amari Cooper 4th overall.
Fitzpatrick will join a secondary that ranked 16th overall in pass defense and will have a chance to be an anchor on that team for the next 10 years.
Defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne was the next Tide player drafted at 13th overall to Washington where he will join Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson who were both selected by Washington in the 2017 draft.
Payne may have had to wait his turn at Alabama, but he made every second count when given his opportunity. Payne is a big-bodied, plug in the middle of the defense that has incredible versatility and agility. Just watch the touchdown pass he caught against Clemson in last year’s Sugar Bowl as an example.
Inside linebacker Rashaan Evans was taken with the 22nd overall pick by the Tennessee Titans. Evans is the 11th linebacker drafted in the Nick Saban era. Evans played both inside and outside linebacker at Alabama so he is versatile.
Evans should push this group and will have a chance to be a Day 1 starter with the Titans. Evans is big, fast and relentless when in pursuit of the quarterback.
With the 26th overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons go back to the well and take another highly-touted Alabama wide receiver in Calvin Ridley. Ridley was the leading receiver for the Tide in 2017 and will be a nice compliment opposite Julio Jones.
Matt Ryan has to be giddy with the extra help he’ll have on the offensive side of the ball.
Ridley will need to show he can get off of blocks, and at 189 pounds it won’t be easy, but if he can, his ability to run crisp routes and his speed can really be an asset for Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian who has a connection with Ridley as a former coach at Alabama.
The four players selected in the 2018 draft ties the 2017, 2012, and 2011 teams with the most first round players take during the Nick Saban era. Two days left and Alabama still has up to 10, maybe 11 more players who could theoretically be drafted in this draft.
Day two of the 2018 draft begins today at 7 p.m. ET.
(You can follow Justin Nails on Twitter @JustinNails)
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