For the 16th consecutive year, the NFL Draft will include at least one player with Alabama football roots in the first round.
NFL teams will select 32 players in the first round of the league’s 84th draft, which starts at 7 p.m. CDT Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. ABC, ESPN and NFL Network will televise the first round.
Among those players will be defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The former Wenonah High School and Alabama standout is projected to be one of the first five selections in the 2019 draft.
If Williams is the No. 1 pick, he’d become the eighth player from an Alabama high school or college to be the first selection in an NFL Draft.
Draft prognosticators are unanimous in forecasting that Williams and Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams will be first-round selections on Thursday. Crimson Tide running back Josh Jacobs also has been widely predicted to come off the board in the first round.
The most recent draft without a state player in the first round came in 2003. That year, the first player from Alabama drafted was Tuskegee defensive back Drayton Florence at No. 46.
Since the NFL Draft started in 1936, 104 players with Alabama football roots have been selected in the first round. Another 33 have been picked in positions that would be in the first round now, but weren’t when the player was selected. The first NFL draft had nine first-round picks — 23 fewer than will be made on Thursday night.
The most players drafted from the state in a single first round is seven in 2011.
The fourth and sixth selections have been the most prolific for state players. The Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants, respectively, hold those picks in this year’s draft.
The eight Pick Six players have been Robert Brazile, Eric Curry, Julio Jones, Walter Jones, Lee Roy Jordan, Barry Krauss, Andre Smith and Richard Todd.
Brazile and Walter Jones are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Two of the eight No. 4 picks with Alabama roots also are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – John Hannah and Derrick Thomas.
The other state players taken with the fourth pick have been Amari Cooper, Brent Fullwood, Jon Hand, Keith McCants, Philip Rivers and Lowell Tew.