Lives will be changed, handshakes and hugs will be exchanged, and the commisioner will be booed. Those are the things you can be certain of as the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday night in Dallas. The rest is a toss up.
But that's okay for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Rashaan Evans, the two former Alabama players that will be in Dallas on draft night, because they're just ready to take the next step in their football careers.
"I've been talking to my mom and my dad about just the moment itself and how I will react," Evans said. "I really don't don't know but I'm just excited and blessed to have this opportunity."
"It's just truly an honor and like I said, it's only the beginning," Fitzpatrick said. "I mean, my dream wasn't just to make it to the NFL, it's to be able to play in the NFL for a long time and have a great career there and set up opportunities for my family."
Could care less about what number I go...I want to be apart of a great team with a great atmosphere. I want Super Bowl Rings����♂️��
— Rashaan Evans (@616evans4) April 23, 2018
As a three-year starter for Alabama, Fitzpatirck racked up 171 total tackles, 16 of which were for a loss with 26 pass breakups and nine interceptions. Of those nine picks, he returned four of them for touchdowns and even won both the Chuck Bednarik (college defensive player of the year) and Jim Thorpe (nation's top defensive back) awards as a junior last season.
“I think Minkah’s sort of a rare commodity in the fact that he’s such a gifted athlete but he’s got such a great personality and he’s such a competitive guy that’s a pleasure to coach in everything that he does," said Alabama Head Coach, Nick Saban of his former defensive back in an appearance on ESPN's Get Up on Wednesday morning. "I mean he’s really an overachiever for a guy that’s a fantastic athlete, and that’s a combination, I think, in this day and age. He has high goals and aspirations for what he wants to do, and I think he meets all the critical factors for what you look for in a DB. He’s a good tackler, he’s got great ball skills, he can play man-to-man. So, I think he’s going to be a great player for someone.”
A lot of people are saying he has to move to safety, but why? @PFF_Steve breaks down Minkah Fitzpatrick's one-on-one coverage ability on the latest NFL Draft Preview Show with @PFF https://t.co/SasVmMxQD0 pic.twitter.com/K8kqbGkRwP
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) April 17, 2018
Evans didn't start every game in his time at Alabama but he definitely finished his career in T-Town with solid numbers. He saw the field all four years, amassing 150 total tackles - including 23.5 for a loss with 15 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“Rashaan has been a fantastic player for us,” Saban said at Alabama's Pro Day.” He has always been a good person. He’s been a good leader, and he has always set a good example in terms of the things that he has done. He certainly was a very productive player for us in several different roles. I can’t say enough good things about what he’s done in terms of contribution to this program on and off the field.”
“His strongest ability is to see where the play is going before it goes there,” SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears said. “Watching tape, you can see a step in the right direction before the play.”
Both players are projected first round picks, with Minkah drawing attention as a potential top-10 pick while Evans is projected to go late in the first round.
The NFL Draft begins on Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT. Day two, which features rounds 2-3 begins at 6 p.m. CT and the final day of the draft, rounds 4-7 begins at 11 a.m. CT.