Alabama defensive stars Minkah Fitzpatrick and Da'Ron Payne heading to NFL

Dr. Saturday
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/257047/" data-ylk="slk:Minkah Fitzpatrick">Minkah Fitzpatrick</a> will be an early selection in the draft. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Minkah Fitzpatrick will be an early selection in the draft. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Once again, there’s a wave of Alabama players declaring early for the NFL draft.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Thursday that defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, running back Bo Scarbrough and defensive back Ronnie Harrison will be heading to the NFL. Saban also confirmed wide receiver Calvin Ridley was forgoing his final season at Alabama. We listed Ridley in our January 10 edition of our draft declaration roundup.

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Fitzpatrick could be the first defensive back taken in the NFL draft. A lockdown corner, he’s been one of Alabama’s best defenders in each of the past two seasons and won the Bednarik Award for best defensive player and the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back in 2017.

Fitzpatrick had 60 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, one interception and eight pass breakups in 2017. The low interception total is probably because teams are reluctant to throw in his direction.

His fellow defensive back Harrison led the team in tackles along with linebacker Rashaan Evans. Harrison had 74 tackles, 2.5 sacks and was second on the team with three interceptions.

Payne became widely known to casual college football fans with his Sugar Bowl performance. Payne caught an interception and a touchdown pass just moments apart. We’re pretty sure he’ll be drafted in the first round because of his ability as a disruptor on the defensive line. He had 53 tackles in 2017.

Scarbrough emerged during Alabama’s playoff run in 2016. His performance at the end of the season led many (including ourselves) to think he was a Heisman favorite in 2017. But Scarbrough’s performance didn’t elevate in 2017, possibly because of a broken leg he suffered in the title game a year ago. Scarbrough ran for 596 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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