Predicting Alabama’s Biggest Impact Rookies
The Crimson Tide saw ten players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, six of which being first rounders, tying the previous record of most first round picks by one school in a single year set by Miami in 2001. Many of the players drafted from Alabama were projected to be instant impact type of guys, but just which ones will have the most impact?
Today, we look at which Crimson Tide rookies will impact their new teams most in the upcoming NFL season.
A player as dynamic as Waddle belongs on this list, and the situation he is entering into in Miami makes his placement here even more sensible. Waddle enters an offense that ranked 20th in the league last season in passing, and with an all-in attitude towards their new quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, the offense should see significant improvement adding a player like Waddle.
A threat to take it to the end zone every time he touches it, he will be a reliable and consistent target for Tua, helping the young quarterback along in his development and further strengthening the existing relationship between the two. Early reports from rookie minicamp have already indicated that Waddle is taking first team reps, meaning offensive coordinators Eric Studesville and George Godsey have big plans for their new receiver.
DeVonta Smith, another incredible player much like Waddle, was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round, and immediately became the teams best option at wide receiver. Smitty, a slender but extremely tough wide out, enters a situation similar to Waddle with a young quarterback that he is quite familiar with in Jalen Hurts, and an offense that lacked production from the wide receiver position last season.
Ranking 28th in passing last year, the Eagles were in desperate need of a solid option on the outside and they have found it in Smith. Jalen Hurts spoke on Smith's arrival recently, saying "(Smith) is self-driven and bringing someone in like that, it helps. Just the presence of him being here.”
Harris was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers towards the end of the first round and is already making himself at home in his new city. The rookie running back is entering an offense that was abysmal in the run game last season, averaging just 84 yards per game, which was good for last in the league.
Harris is an early favorite to take home offensive rookie of the year by many, and joining an offense where he will likely be the No. 1 option at the position makes it easy to see why. Steelers fans have been utterly disappointed by James Conner's performance, averaging just 46 and 55 yards per game in 2019 and 2020