Some of the top prospects in college football are moving from Alabama to the pros.
Edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., running back Jahmyr Gibbs and quarterback Bryce Young announced their intentions to enter the 2023 NFL Draft during a Monday press conference at the school’s athletic facility. The trio helped lead the Crimson Tide to a 45-20 Sugar Bowl win over Kansas State on Saturday in the final collegiate game for each.
Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner, has had a prolific career. He’s the only quarterback in Alabama history to throw for 3,000-plus yards in two seasons and owns the school record for single-season passing yards (4,872) and touchdowns (47), both set in 2021. This season, Young threw for 3,328 yards and 32 TDs in three fewer games than he played last season. Young backed up 2021 first-rounder Mac Jones during Alabama’s championship season in 2020, seeing limited action in seven games. He departs the Tide with a career TD-INT ratio of 80:12.
His size — listed as 6-foot, 194 pounds by the school — could be a talking point leading up to this year’s draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri). The smallest recent first-round quarterback was the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, who measured 5-10 1/8 and 207 pounds at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
Anderson led the FBS in sacks in 2021 with 17.5 and followed that up with 10 more sacks in 2022, along with a pick-six. He finishes his Crimson Tide career with 62 tackles for loss and 34.5 sacks over three seasons (41 games).
The 6-4, 243-pound (school measurements) linebacker was primarily a pass rusher for Nick Saban’s defense — and one of the best Saban has ever had at Alabama — but has shown he can drop back into coverage and be a quality run defender, too.
If there’s a consistent knock against Anderson, it’s that he’s left some meat on the bone with missed tackles. PFF has credited him with 36 missed tackles, averaging nearly one per game, in his career. In 2022 alone, Anderson had 14 missed tackles, per PFF.
But with his pass-rush juice and pro-ready athletic traits, Anderson is a highly coveted talent. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah likened him to the Bills’ Von Miller after studying three of his game tapes from the 2021 season.
Gibbs shares some skills with the Saints’ Alvin Kamara and looks quite a bit like him when running or catching the ball. Although he’s a little smaller than Kamara, Gibbs has the kind of three-down skill set that could be very enticing to NFL teams. He transferred from Georgia Tech before this season, registering career highs in rush yards (926), yards per carry (6.1) and rushing TDs (seven), also catching 44 passes for 444 yards and three scores.
Later on Monday, Alabama defensive back Brian Branch announced his intention to enter the 2023 draft via social media. Branch is one of the team’s most versatile and perhaps underrated prospects this draft cycle. He often manned the slot for the Crimson Tide but also played multiple safety spots, can line up wide at corner when needed and also plays on special teams. He was flagged for five penalties this season, per PFF, but Branch is a very good tackler and blitzer with a nose for the ball (four INTs, 27 passes defended in three seasons).
As underclassmen (all four players are third-year juniors), they have until Jan. 16 to renounce their remaining college football eligibility by submitting written notification to the NFL.