Alabama Team News

Minkah Fitzpatrick gives Alabama coaches (and his future NFL employer) a versatile piece of puzzle

For the sixth time in seven years, the SEC had the most first-rounders in the 2017 NFL draft. Twelve SEC players went in the first round, with nine from West Division schools. The 12 first-rounders tied an all-time record; the ACC had 12 in 2006 and the SEC 12 in 2013. It also was the fifth time in six years that the SEC had double-digit selections in the first round.

Here are the SEC players other than Fitzpatrick who potentially could go in the first round, listed alphabetically.

WR Antonio Callaway, Florida: Talent isn’t the problem. If Callaway can straighten up off the field, he’ll turn heads on it.

RELATED: The good, the bad and everything in-between: Every SEC position unit ranked

RB Derrius Guice, LSU: He led the SEC in rushing last season with 1,357 yards. Now he has a chance to show he’s just as good, if not better, than Leonard Fournette.

S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama: He plays with an edge, and has size (6-3, 214), range and a physical nature (86 tackles last season).

DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss: He’s up to 230 pounds and has big-time career numbers (24.5 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss. If Haynes can polish his game and shine through all the drama in Oxford, he’ll go early, though he will have to move to outside linebacker at the next level.

OLB Arden Key, LSU: He is coming off shoulder surgery, but may be the highest-upside edge rusher in the nation. He set the single-season school record with 12 sacks in 2016.

WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M: He can be a game-changer. He had nine TD catches and three punt-return TDs last season.

DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama: He’s a force in the middle and recently bench-pressed 550 pounds.

C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas: He hasn’t allowed a sack in the past two seasons. He’s generally considered the best center in the nation.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama: If Jalen Hurts can get it to him downfield, Ridley will return to his 2015 form, when he caught five TD passes that covered at least 30 yards as a freshman.

OL Braden Smith, Auburn: He can play guard and tackle and is an excellent athlete (565-pound squat, 495-pound bench press, 33-inch vertical jump).

DT Trenton Thompson, Georgia: He dominated TCU in the Liberty Bowl, with eight tackles and three sacks. Can Kirby Smart get him to consistently dominate?

RELATED: The SEC’s top 50 players for 2017

(Duane Rankin is an award-winning columnist/videographer for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser whose work can also be found in USA TODAY. You can follow him on Twitter @DuaneRankin)

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