- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — There were 11 players from the Alabama Crimson Tide who participated in this year’s NFL scouting combine, and if history is any indication, one or more could end up with the Washington Redskins.

After all, the Redskins have a well-known affinity for Alabama players — taking four in the last two drafts. Washington has also added Crimson Tide alums through trades (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and undrafted free agents (Cam Sims). In 2018, the Redskins had eight players from Alabama on their roster.

That hasn’t gone unnoticed in Tuscaloosa.

“After a while, I feel like it’s going to be Alabama there,” linebacker Mack Wilson said, “especially if they pick somebody from Alabama this year.”

The Redskins target Crimson Tide players in part because of their pedigree. Under Nick Saban, the program is a perennial title contender and they’ve produced more draft choices than any other school in the last 10 years.

Since 2009, 77 Alabama players have been drafted — topping LSU’s 65.

But few like Saban’s players as much as the Redskins do. Washington has taken five Alabama products — the second-most in the NFL in Saban’s tenure. Only the Baltimore Ravens, who lead the league with seven draftees, have taken more.

For this year’s crop, Alabama’s top prospects include defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, offensive lineman Jonah Williams, running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Irv Smith and safety Deionte Thompson. Williams and Thompson, in particular, would fill major holes for the Redskins‘ roster.

Jonah Williams, projected to be taken in the middle of the first round, is seen as either as tackle or a guard in the NFL. And the Redskins, who have the 15th pick, could definitely use a new left guard.

If Jonah Williams is taken at No. 15, then the Redskins would use a first-rounder on an Alabama product for the third straight year. The team took defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen in the last two drafts.

“I always think that’s cool — keeping guys together like that,” Jonah Williams said. “I know that they’re all good friends and feed off each other’s energy and all those things. When you watch them play, if Jon gets a sack, then Daron is the first guy to smack him on the helmet, vice versa.

“Coming from a program with a great culture like Alabama, and inserting them on your team, I think it’s done great things for them.”

When the Redskins do take players from Alabama, it largely has been to rebuild the defense. All four of their recent picks — Payne, Allen, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Ryan Anderson — have been on the defensive side of the ball.

Alabama linebacker Christian Miller called Washington’s tendency “pretty cool,” noting their prior chemistry helps make the transition into the NFL easier.

For the most part, the Crimson Tide have a track record of producing excellent defenders. From a pure numbers’ standpoint, 57 percent (44) of Alabama’s draftees played defense.

The university is loaded with so much talent that five-star recruits regularly have to sit for a year or two and wait their turn. There’s no better example of this than star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams — who was a benchwarmer behind Allen and Payne before emerging as a consensus top-3 pick in this year’s draft.

But that was part of the program’s appeal, Quinnen Williams said. The 21-year-old said he wanted to learn from the best and have them available to be resources in the future.

“Alabama is like the NFL U of college football,” Quinnen Williams said. “(There are) a lot of guys I could call right now and be like, ‘What’s going to happen in the combine drills?’ And they could tell me off the rails because they’ve been through it.”

If Quinnen Williams wanted to know more about the Redskins, there are a few guys he could call.

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