Alabama Crimson Tide
2017 Record: 13-2 (7-1) - Lost National Championship
2018 Coaches Poll Top 25 Rank: No. 1
The expectations in Tuscaloosa are always the same - national championship or bust. That won't change in 2018, despite once again trying to replace a score of talent that has since departed for the NFL.
The big buzz at Alabama centers around the quarterback battle between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, despite the virtual certainty that the former will win the starting job. At every other position, it is business as usual. Calvin Ridley leaves, Jerry Jeudy steps up. Da'Shawn Hand and Da'Ron Payne leave, Isaiah Buggs and Raekwon Davis step up. Ronnie Harrison leaves, Deionte Thompson steps up. Rashaan Evans leaves, Mack Wilson steps up. And so on and so forth.
'Bama might not be quite the juggernaut we've seen in their best years, but they still deserve to be considered one of the top three favorites to win it all once again this year.
Top 5 Draft-Eligible Prospects
1. IDL Raekwon Davis
Long-levered interior defender who plays with exceptional power, technique and pad level. Davis can start immediately in the NFL due to his prowess against the run. Can he develop as a pass rusher and showcase a more explosive first step in 2018?
2. LB Mack Wilson
All the traits are there for Wilson, whose first two starts came in the College Football Playoff against Clemson and Georgia. He's outstanding in coverage, but will need to get stronger and answer questions about his mental processing against the run at linebacker.
3. S Deionte Thompson
At 6-foot-2, 194 pounds with ideal length and athleticism for the position, Thompson could be a quiet riser this season, his first as a starter at Alabama. Like Wilson, he was terrific in the first two starts of his career in the playoff, but NFL teams will want to see him finish a little more consistently as a tackler and master the cerebral aspects of the game.
4. OT Jonah Williams
Technically and mentally, Williams is a terrific offensive tackle prospect with top five potential. Is he a special prospect? I'd like to see more aggressiveness in pass protection and in the run game from Williams this season.
5. RB Damien Harris
Harris is built like a brick house, which makes tackling him a miserable proposition. He's tough, physical and aggressive as a runner, but lacks the special athletic traits to make him a high-end prospect. Receiving and pass protection are areas of Harris' game NFL teams will question unless he stands out this season.
Others to Watch: EDGE Anfernee Jennings, OG Lester Cotton, OG Ross Pierschbacher, IDL Isaiah Buggs, IDL Quinnen Williams, OT Matt Womack, TE Irv Smith, RB Joshua Jacobs, EDGE Terrell Lewis (torn ACL), CB Trevon Diggs, CB Shyheim Carter, CB Saivion Smith