NFL draft: Quinnen Williams, three other Alabama prospects declare

NFL draft: Quinnen Williams, three other Alabama prospects declare

The annual tradition of talent coming from Alabama to the NFL began to take place on Friday, with four underclassmen, all of whom could go in the first round, declared for the draft

Here's how the Crimson Tide quartet could fit into the Bay Area, especially for the Raiders. 

Quinnen Williams, DL

Williams may have been the most dominant player in college football as a redshirt sophomore. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive lineman won the Outland Trophy, given to the country's best interior lineman, and finished the season with 71 tackles (19.5 for loss), eight sacks, and 12 quarterback hurries. 

The No. 1 ranked player in college football by Pro Football Focus was a terror to opposing offenses. Though he didn't have a huge day in the box score in the CFP National Championship, Williams could easily be the 49ers pick at No. 2 or to the Raiders at No. 4. 

Jonah Williams, OL 

The former Folsom High School star started every game of his three-year career at Alabama and can play either tackle position on the offensive line. He was a unanimous All-American and hasn't given up a sack since 2017. 

"To have someone like him blocking on my left side at tackle, I mean I have the utmost trust in him," Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said of Williams before the title game. 

If Ohio St. edge rusher Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen all are selected in the top three picks, there's a chance Jon Gruden and Co. could go with Williams to anchor the offensive line. Derek Carr was sacked 51 times in 2018 while rookie Kolton Miller struggled and Donald Penn, who turns 36 in April, played in only four games due to injury.

Irv Smith Jr., TE

Smith enjoyed a breakout season as a junior and was one of Tagovailoa's favorite targets. He caught 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. 

With Jared Cook turning 32 years old in April and hitting free agency, Smith could be a replacement near the end of the first round for the Raiders.

Josh Jacobs, RB

Jacobs had the second-most carries (120) on the Crimson Tide and finished the season with the third-most yards (640) on the team, but he could end up as the top running back in the draft. 

The Raiders have no long-term answer at running back and both Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin will free agents. Jacobs scored 15 touchdowns on 1,315 total yards.

2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. first-round picks for 49ers, Raiders


2019 NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. first-round picks for 49ers, Raiders

No team will change the fortunes of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft quite like the Oakland Raiders, and that much is clear in the latest mock draft from ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

In his second mock draft of the year, Kiper Jr. projected the Raiders would select three different players in the first round than he did a month ago. Oakland has three selections after trading edge rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper, both of whom were first-round picks themselves. 

Meanwhile, the Raiders' counterparts across the Bay are projected to maintain their focus on the edge. Here's how Kiper Jr. thinks the first round will shake out for the 49ers and Raiders. 

49ers, No. 2: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "Two former first-round picks along the defensive line (Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas) have struggled in San Francisco, but neither has the pure pass-rushing ability of Allen, who had 17 sacks and five forced fumbles last season. Allen would fill a glaring need."

Analysis: San Francisco ranked in the bottom-third of the league in sacks (37) in 2018. There are options in free agency, but adding a cost-controlled top prospect would help the 49ers preserve their already abundant salary-cap space and allow them to address their pass-rushing deficiency immediately. Allen appears as pro-ready as any player in this draft, and is a strong consolation prize for missing out on Nick Bosa.

Raiders, No. 4: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "Expect coach Jon Gruden and new [general manager] Mike Mayock to target a pass-rusher with one of their three first-round picks. Gary (6-6, 283) has some versatility to kick inside and play tackle, but he has a high ceiling as an end. When he's locked in, he can dominate a game."

Analysis: Kiper Jr. had Gary seventh on his big board a couple weeks ago, and projected him to be selected ninth in his first mock draft.  Gary said last week he is "the best player in the draft," and although that confidence probably isn't why he's moved in Kiper Jr.'s eyes, the Raiders could certainly use some bravado on the edge after trading Mack just before the season.

Raiders, No. 24: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "We know that Jon Gruden loves playmakers -- I heard him talk about them for years. And Murphy is one of the best defensive playmakers in this class, a ball hawk who had seven interceptions over two seasons at Washington."

Analysis: Murphy might have been the best college cornerback in 2018, and he was a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus' estimation. Kiper Jr. projected Murphy as the third CB off of the board in his latest mock draft, so the redshirt sophomore could represent great value for Oakland if he falls to the back end of the first round.

Raiders, No. 27, Brian Burns, Florida State

What Kiper Jr. is saying: "This match is all about helping the Raiders improve their pass rush, as the 6-5, 235-pound Burns is a pure speed edge rusher. He needs to get a little bigger, but time in an NFL strength and conditioning program should help. "

Analysis: Two edge rushers in Silver and Black? After the Raiders posted the fewest sacks by a team in the last 10 years, that'd be music to Mayock and Gruden's ears. Last year, Burns recorded three fewer sacks (10) by himself than Oakland's entire pass rush. 

Colin Kaepernick’s attorney predicts QB’s NFL return; why not Raiders?


Colin Kaepernick’s attorney predicts QB’s NFL return; why not Raiders?

Colin Kaepernick has settled his collusion grievance with the NFL, leaving some to ask if the former 49ers quarterback now will play in the league again.

Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, has the answer: Yes, and he even predicted which teams might land his client, who has been out of football since the 2016 NFL season.

"I think you're going to see within the next two weeks that somebody's going to step up, somebody's going to do the right thing," Geragos said Saturday on CNN. "You want me to predict who? I will tell you, besides the Panthers, it would not surprise me if [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft makes a move.”

So, there won’t be a return to the Bay Area for Kaepernick, as both the 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo) and the Raiders (Derek Carr) seem set with starting QBs. Then again, so are the Panthers with Cam Newton and the Patriots with Tom Brady.

Does that mean Kaepernick would accept a backup role then? If so, the 49ers still wouldn’t make sense — coach Kyle Shanahan has said Kaepernick isn’t a fit, and the team practically forced his contract opt-out two years ago — but the Raiders could be a landing spot.

Coach/personnel czar Jon Gruden has a history of bringing multiple QBs to camp, and the Raiders’ current backups are AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman.

Neither of those signal-callers have Kaepernick’s résumé. In fact, the Raiders’ decision to add Peterman, whose Buffalo Bills tenure was an interception-filled disaster, in December led many to wonder if there really was something to this whole “NFL collusion against Kaepernick” thing.

Kaepernick is tied with Brady for the second-lowest interception percentage in NFL history at 1.8. Peterman, meanwhile, has a whopping 9.2 interception percentage.

But perhaps this stat is most telling when comparing the two QBs: Peterman has thrown three pick-sixes in his career. So has Kaepernick — in 61 more games. Protecting the ball is supposed to be an important QB trait in the NFL, and while Kaepernick has his faults, throwing costly picks isn’t one of them.

[RELATED: AAF has interest in signing Colin Kaepernick, just like the NFL should]

Bay Area ties aside, the Panthers would fit for various reasons. Newton, like Kaepernick, is a mobile QB who likes to create plays while on the run, and safety Eric Reid, who joined his former 49ers teammate in the collusion case, just re-signed with the team

Any NFL contract for Kaepernick would be progress at this point, though Geragos likely was speaking in hope rather than in reality about his client’s timeline and possible options.