On Tuesday afternoon, Alabama Football cornerback, Eli Ricks announced his intention to enter the 2023 NFL Draft.
Ricks became the fifth Alabama Crimson Tide junior to choose NFL Early Entry. The others are now former Alabama football players, Bryce Young, Will Anderson Jr., Jahmyr Gibbs and Brian Branch.
With the Ricks’ exit, the Alabama football secondary from the 2022 season will lose four of its top five players. The one returning player among the five will be cornerback, Kool-Aid McKinstry. In addition, regular dime formation contributor, Malachi Moore will return for the 2023 season.
Many Alabama football fans believe Ricks would be better served by another season of college competition. Ricks has played in only 23 games in his three-season college career that began at LSU in the 2020 season. He is no lock to be chosen in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He does, however, have a good chance to be drafted no lower than the middle of the second round.
Unless Ricks’ stock gains a considerable upgrade during workouts, the Combine, and in personal interviews with NFL teams, the young man’s decision could cost him millions of dollars.
The departure by Ricks does not catch Alabama Football off guard. It does mean a young Crimson Tide secondary will at least go through early growing pains early in the 2023 season.
It was already known replacements would be needed at the safety positions and a star, for Jordan Battle, DeMarcco Hellams and Brian Branch. Assuming Kool-Aid and Malachi are locked in starters, what four Crimson Tide backups will fill the other four dime slots? And could it mean that rather than 2022 backups, incoming freshmen earn starting roles by the end of August?
Key Alabama Football Secondary Backups
- Terrion Arnold – Arnold could be used at corner, safety or star in the 2023 season. He has the most returning experience on the roster, including starts in the 2022 season.
- Kristian Story – Story has patiently waited his turn, seeing little more than special teams play in two seasons of action. The former high school, star quarterback is the best bet to earn one of the starting safety roles.
- Earl Little Jr. – Little has a high ceiling and the second-year player could gain a starting job at cornerback or star
In addition to that trio, incoming freshmen 5-Stars, Caleb Downs and Desmond Ricks could be early season starters. Both young men enrolled early and with a strong spring and August preseason, Downs at safety and Ricks at corner could become opening-game starters.
The 2023 Alabama Football roster now has 15 defensive backs. It is possible an impact transfer player could be added.
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