Alabama Crimson Tide Draft Class
14. S Brian Branch
46. CB Eli Ricks
76. OT Tyler Steen
107. LB Henry To’o To’o
117. DT Byron Young
135. OG Emil Ekiyor Jr.
The best part of the Alabama draft class is the top two needs are addressed early. Ricks is the tall, long corner the New England Patriots need to become the shutdown corner to blanket the talented receivers in the AFC East. Steen was an experienced cornerstone of the Alabama offensive line. With a year to develop him, Steen would be ready to hold down Mac Jones’ blind spot for the next decade.
Not to be ignored is Branch, the top pick in the class. He’s versatile enough to play corner, but the plan is he will eventually fill the shoes worn by Devin McCourty. With excellent size, Branch can cover slot receivers and tight ends one-on-one, but also has the agility to patrol the deep secondary.
Unfortunately, the Patriots can’t get all the ‘Bama players. In order to get Ricks and Steen, I had to pass on RB Jahmyr Gibbs, who could be available in the second around. The idea of New England using a first or second round selection on a running back doesn’t sound logical, especially since Belichick drafted a running back with a first or second round pick just three times (Laurence Moroney in 2006, Shane Vereen in 2011, Sony Michel in 2018).
And To’o To’o might be nice, but it was either him or TE Cameron Latu. Going by the Patriots’ history, they drafted Alabama linebackers before, so it’s more likely they’d do so again. Also Latu is a little undersized for a typical Patriots tight end. But I would prefer Latu in this situation since the New England Patriots don’t have a tight end under contract beyond 2023.
Young and Ekiyor Jr. round out the draft class as solid developmental picks.