The University of Alabama has been a one-stop shop for NFL defenses for years now, and the 2023 NFL Draft is no different. The Crimson Tide have players at all three levels of their defense that will help NFL teams in 2023.
Safety Jordan Battle might have one of the best names in the draft class, but he’s flying under the radar in a talented group of defensive backs. But he was an every-down player for Alabama who was a main contributor against the run and the pass.
The New York Giants ran a very DB-heavy defense in 2022, despite their depth being pushed to the very limit. Could Battle help bolster the Giants’ secondary?
Prospect: Jordan Battle (9)
Games Watched: vs. Texas (2022), vs. Arkansas (2022), vs. Tennessee (2022), vs. LSU (2022)
Games Played: 52
Tackles for a loss: 6.5
Passes defensed: 10
Interceptions: 6 (3 returned for touchdowns)
Games Played: 12
Tackles for a loss: 0.5
Passes defensed: 2
Best: Size, football IQ, communication, versatility, coverage, run defense
Worst: Lower body stiffness, range
Projection: A versatile third safety in a sub-package heavy defense
(Battle is Alabama safety number 9)
Alabama safety Jordan Battle is a smart, experienced, and versatile defensive back.
Battle has ideal size for a safety at 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, while maintaining solid athleticism. He is also a very experienced defender, having played in 52 games across his four-year career at Alabama. Unsurprisingly, Battle is also a very smart safety and a very active communicator both before and after the snap. He consistently helped to line up his teammates and called out aspects of the offensive play before the snap.
He has the size to play close to the line of scrimmage, as well as enough athleticism to man a deep half or third as a free safety. Interestingly, Battle primarily played the deep middle in Alabama’s defense. He also helped to execute post-snap coverage rotations, moving from a deep half to the centerfield while another DB would rotate closer to the line of scrimmage.
He’s a reliable safety in zone coverage, with enough size to match up with tight ends or running backs, and the athleticism to get to the catch point against a receiver. He has a very good closing burst and is quite disruptive at the catch point. His alignment didn’t put him in position to come away with many interceptions, but he’s capable of knocking the ball away when coming downhill.
Battle does a good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield and has great field awareness. He generally shows a good understanding of the opposing offensive scheme, is quick to diagnose the play, and read run or pass. He has a quick downhill trigger and usually takes smart angles to the football. Battle is a reliable tackler on underneath plays, delivering hard hits and wrapping up to prevent yards after contact.
Battle was frequently manned the deep middle of the field, but he had issues covering enough ground. He has just adequate speed, and doesn’t have the range to be a true centerfielder at the NFL level. Battle arrived late to the play too often when manning the deep middle. Athletic receivers were able to get behind him when he had to cover too much ground.
Likewise, he shows stiffness through his lower body. He’s tall and relatively awkward in his backpedal, forcing him to turn and run early in the play. That can take his eyes out of the backfield, as well as slow his transition to driving on underneath plays.
Battle was also occasionally prone to over-aggression in his angles to the ball. While they would start as smart and efficient angles, athletic ball carriers were able to break those angles and force Battle into a poor position to make the tackle.
Overall Grade: 7.9
Jordan Battle projects as a versatile third safety at the NFL level. He might have starting upside in the right scheme – that being one that doesn’t put too much on him athletically and allows him to use his versatility and football IQ to his advantage. However, he would be a good “big nickel” player for any defense that uses the alignment.
He has enough size and athleticism to man a box safety position, as well as hold down a deep half, third, or quarter in a zone defense. That versatility should allow a defense plenty of options to mix and match coverage players, as well as disguise pressure on passing downs.
Battle is limited by lower-body stiffness and shouldn’t be put in situations where he’s forced into man coverage with receivers at the NFL level. Likewise, teams won’t want him manning large coverage zones behind blitzes. But he is a good and reliable player within his limitations, and can certainly help a defense at the next level.