With the Return of Jackson and Williams, What Will Bama’s Defense Look Like Next Season?
It was up in the air as to how many Alabama underclassmen would declare for the NFL Draft this April, but fortunately for Tide fans, two of the key pieces of this past season's defense decided to return for their senior seasons.
Defensive back Eddie Jackson and linebacker Tim Williams will forgo the 2016 NFL Draft to further their career at The Capstone. While they may not have been the popular names of the 2015 defense (like A'Shawn Robinson, Reggie Ragland, and Cyrus Jones), all three were among the most talented of the stellar group.
The player who led the Tide in interceptions this season was none other than Eddie Jackson (6), including the lone interception thrown by Clemson stud quarterback Deshaun Watson in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Tim Williams was second on the team in both sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (12.5) on the season. The core play stoppers of the 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide defense are coming back in 2016, even in the absence of Cyrus Jones and All-American Reggie Ragland.
There hasn't been an announcement on the status of defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and A'Shawn Robinson, nor linebacker Reuben Foster concerning their decision whether or not to enter their names into the NFL Draft, but let's play the "What if" game and say, "What if they all decide to come back?"
In short, the 2016 defense could possibly be better than the 2015 group, and it may not even be close.
So we're assuming Allen, Robinson, and Foster return; that right there would be plenty to move a defensive unit into "the best in the country." And let's assume the rest of the underclassmen on defense decide to come back. Who else will be taking the field for the Crimson Tide in 2016? Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Rashaan Evan, and Denzell Devall at linebacker; Josh Frazier, Da'Shawn Hand, Jarran Reed, and Daron Payne at defensive line; and Marlon Humphrey, Eddie Jackson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Ronnie Harrison as defensive backs, to name a few.
Doesn't sound like too shabby of a defense if you're asking me.
We'll see what Jonathan Allen, A'Shawn Robinson, and Reuben Foster decide to do over the coming days, but one thing is certain for Alabama's defense next season: it's going to be nasty yet again.