Alabama must replace a legend during the 2023 season
It’s up to Alabama head coach Nick Saban and new/returning defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to “replace a legend” since Will Anderson left for the NFL in the 2023 season, according to Roll Bama Roll’s Josh Chatham.
“If there’s one position on the field where Alabama has absolutely dominated in recent recruiting cycles, it’s the outside linebacker — in fact, Alabama has signed the top-ranked post-247-composite edge prospect in each of the last four classes and each adds class with another top four contender,” Chatham said, before saying, “That’s a good thing as they have a legend to replace.”
Anderson had his best season in 2021 with a total of 101 tackles and 17.5 sacks, but his 51 tackles and 10 sacks from the 2022 season will be difficult to replace, Chatham explains.
“Will Anderson is the first of the four consecutive top picks listed above to hold the position and is probably the pick of the NFL draft in the current draft, although the quarterbacks will be ahead of him,” Chatham said. “Quite simply, he’s the best pass rusher from Tuscaloosa since Derrick Thomas and was underestimated a bit because teams tried everything to play around him. Replacing him will be a big challenge but here are some horses.”
Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell lead the Alabama Linebackers
Chatham highlighted returning Alabama starters Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell as the leaders in the linebacker room for the 2023 season. The former could be a future top NFL draft pick, according to Chatham, if he can overcome the injuries he’s been struggling with this spring.
“Turner was the top pick in the 2021 recruit class, and 2023 will be his year to break out of Anderson’s giant shadow and prove himself as a top 10 pick in the next draft,” Chatham said, before saying, “Sorry, while he will be one of the key plays for this season, he is out for spring while recovering from undisclosed surgery.
Braswell, on the other hand, is an elder statesman who should keep his starting spot but may have competition for his job.
“It took a while for him to see any meaningful action in Tuscaloosa after he was passed over by Turner, but to his credit he just kept working and carving out a role in his third year,” Chatham said. “Heading into 2023, he is the Elder Statesman of the OLB Group. Braswell will no doubt start in the spring but should expect some fierce competition for that spot in August.”
Chris Braswell in Alabama “no more chance”.
According to Brad Shepard of Bleacher Report, Braswell is one of 12 players in college football who are “running out of chances.” Braswell did not appear in a game for Alabama during his freshman year (2020) at Tuscaloosa, but started in all 13 games during the 2022 season.
“There’s no shame in not cracking Alabama’s starting lineup considering how many talented head coach Nick Saban comes in year after year,” Shepard said, before saying, “But edge-rusher Chris Braswell, the No. 19 overall draft of the Class 2020, probably expected more.”
Shepard is adamant Braswell could do more in the 2023 season before becoming an NFL prospect.
“This year, with Will Anderson Jr. moving to the NFL, Braswell has a clearer path to starting at the ‘Jack’ outside linebacker spot,” Shepard wrote. “He’s grown to 6’3” and 255 pounds so physically he’s ready to take the lead. Despite being listed as a senior on Alabama’s roster, Braswell could still play a few more seasons at Tuscaloosa. But even with all the exciting young edge rushers and outside linebackers on Alabama’s roster, Braswell could also boom this year and make it to the NFL.
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