Four players declare for 2019 NFL Draft

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Four players declare for 2019 NFL Draft

By Hannah Saad

By Hannah Saad

By Hannah Saad

By Hannah Saad

Staff Report

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Four players from Alabama’s 2018 football team officially declared for the 2018 NFL Draft on Friday.

Running back Josh Jacobs, offensive tackle Jonah Williams and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams all announced at Mal Moore Athletic Facility, while tight end Irv Smith made his announcement on Twitter.

“This is kind of a tradition that we’ve started here for guys that have done an outstanding job for the University of Alabama, representing our football program, not only on the field, in terms of the success that they’ve had individually and contributed to the collective success of our team by winning a national championship, a couple of SEC championships, continuing our streak of winning 11 games and Top 10 finishes,” coach Nick Saban said.

In their three years at Alabama, the four juniors finished 42-3, won four playoff games, went to the national championship game all three years and finished with a 8-1 record against Alabama’s biggest rivals (LSU, Auburn and Tennessee).

“But these guys have also done an outstanding job of representing the university off the field. They’ve done a great job academically. They’ve set a good example in terms of their leadership, how they’ve affected other people, and the things they’ve done to contribute to the program itself in terms of what we try to do to help our players be more successful in life.

Irv Smith:

Smith played a big role for the Alabama offense in 2018. After catching 14 passes for 128 yards in 2017, Smith had a breakout year, setting tight end records in receiving yards (710) and touchdowns (7). His He also caught 44 passes, which was fourth on the team.

CBS Sports has him ranked as the No. 2 tight end and the No. 65 prospect overall. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has him ranked as the No. 37 player overall and the No. 2 tight end.

Here is his announcement:

Josh Jacobs

After dealing with injuries for most of last season, Jacobs blew up in 2018. The junior finished third on the team with 640 rushing yards on 120 attempts (for an average of 5.3 yards a carry). He also finished with a team-high 15 touchdowns (three receiving, 11 rushing and one on special teams), which was tied for 21st in the country.

“I want to thank the program,” Jacobs said. “I want to thank coach Saban for taking the chance on me. A lot of people didn’t. I want to thank coach Burns for teaching me everything I know about football and coach Panunzio, a big impact in helping me become a better person in off-the-field things. I also want to thank coach Cochran for making me the man I am for all the hard things I’ve been through just being there and being able to talk to him and for the support.”

He finished with over 100 all-purpose yards twice this season and won the SEC Championship MVP for rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns on eight attempts.

Coming out of high school, Jacobs had just nine offers. Outside of Alabama, his biggest offers were from Missouri, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Heading to the draft, CBS Sports has the Tulsa, Oklahoma native as the No. 5 running back and the No. 72 overall player.

This is the announcement he made on Twitter shortly after the press conference:

Quinnen Williams

Quinnen Williams increased his draft stock as much as anyone else in the country in 2018. In his first three years at Alabama, the redshirt sophomore sat behind NFL player Da’Ron Payne, before getting his first real shot this year, and he made the most of it.

Quinnen Williams won the Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman, was a first team All-American and finished as a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award. He finished with 71 tackles, 19.5 for a loss and eight sacks.

“My three years at Alabama have been some of the best of my life,” Quinnen Williams said. “During my time at the university, I’ve grown into not only a better football player but also a better person. I’m also thankful for all the time and effort that coach Saban and his staff have put toward developing me. Without coach Saban’s continual teaching and support, I wouldn’t have become the player I am today. He took a chance on me back in high school when not many others would and I was truly blessed to have the opportunity to play at the University of Alabama. Thank you, coach.”

Quinnen Williams is projected to be a top-5 pick in April’s draft. He is listed as the No. 2 overall player by CBS Sports, Miller and ESPN’s Mel Kiper.

Even with the high draft grade, it wasn’t an easy decision.

“It was a very difficult decision in general because I’m young, and I did just one year and it was a big year for me,” Williams said. “Just listen to the guys like coach (Nick) Saban, who helped me out tremendously, because he knows I’m young and I can tell him like, ‘Coach, I’m young. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what goes into like being an early enrollee. I’m a college dropout.’ I just talk to him about all that stuff. He’s been through it before… So just listening to his advice, taking all his advice in and writing everything he says down.”

Jonah Williams

Jonah Williams has always been a top player. Coming out of high school, he was the No. 17 player in the country and No. 2 offensive tackle. He was an undisputed five-star recruit.

Going out for the draft is the exact same, as he is the No. 7 overall player by CBS Sports and the No. 9 player by Miller. He is rated as the best tackle by both.

Jonah Williams’ plan coming out of high school was to leave early, as long as he was in the right position do so.

“Well, one of the biggest things for me is I wanted to have my degree before I declared for the NFL, so I kind of had a plan in mind since I was in high school,” Jonah Williams said. “I took AP classes my junior and senior years so I could have more credits and graduate early from high school and enroll early here and have that extra 15 (credit hours) that first semester. There were a lot of things that I did (to prepare for this). But if the time wasn’t right, and I came back for another year and got a master’s degree and played another season, that would’ve been fine. But I just felt that the time was right.”

Saying Jonah Williams has been a solid tackle might be an understatement. The Folsom, California native allowed just one sack over three years and has started all 44 games the junior class has had an opportunity to play in.

“There’s a lot of things that I can be proud of, and I think now is a good time to move on and try my luck at the next level,” Jonah Williams said.