Crimson Tide's foothold in NFL getting stronger
As the 32 National Football League teams head to training camps across the country all but eight will have at least one former University of Alabama player on its initial roster.
Over the next few weeks, 49 players who used to wear crimson will be vying for spots when the final rosters are set at the end of August.
The list has a player from every offensive and defensive position, and is just a kicker short of including all the special-team spots as well. With former linebacker Jerrell Harris signing with the Denver Broncos, and cornerback DeQuan Menzie with the Detroit Lions during the offseason, every defensive starter from the national championship 2011 defense, which led the nation in every major statistical category, is under contract with an NFL team.
Last year Alabama had 30 former players on opening weekend rosters not including those on injured reserve or on practice squads. That was the seventh most among all college football programs with Southern California edging out Nick Saban’s former LSU Tigers for the top spot, 40 to 39, and roughly twice as many as when the coach took over in 2007.
To give an idea of Alabama’s rapid improvement in getting players to the next level the Crimson Tide wasn’t even listed among the top 25 programs until 2011.
Since 2009, Alabama’s has the most first-round selections with 16 after not having any between 2000 (Chris Samuels and Shaun Alexander) and 2009 (Andre Smith), and no draft picks at all in 2008.
The 11 first-round picks from 2011, 2012 and 2013 alone equaled the output of the previous six Crimson Tide coaches and 22 years combined. With linebacker C.J. Mosley going 17th this year to the Baltimore Ravens, Saban surpassed Paul W. “Bear” Bryant for the most of any Alabama coach, and his career total of 21 is tied for the fifth on the all-time list.
At his current Alabama pace Saban will catch Joe Paterno’s record of 33 in 2018.
“Going into it I really didn’t know what to expect,” said running back Eddie Lacy, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,178 yards on 284 carries, with 11 touchdowns and just one fumble last season. “I was nervous more than anything. My main focus was to do what I can and don’t mess up, don’t be the guy who sets the team back.
“(Playing at Alabama) helped out a lot. We have a tough program here at Alabama and I think it definitely does help you get ready for the next level, both mentally and physically.”
Overall, 118 players that Saban either coached or recruited have been selected over the years, an average of just under one per round (.94).
Of the 33 Crimson Tide players picked between 2009-13, their initial contracts combined added up to more than $280 million. Factor in the projections for the eight players drafted in May and that figure goes up to $314 million.
“We feel like when it comes to development of players to play football, a lot of guys really want the opportunity to play in the National Football League,” Saban said. “To get this interest and representation from the league to give our players are opportunity is certainly what we would like for each one of our players to have.
“You have such great relationships with all these players and hate to see them leave. You certainly do appreciate the great job they’ve done of representing the program while you’re here, but you’re also extremely excited and happy for them to be able to have an opportunity to fulfill their dream of being able to play at the next level.”
Consequently, the strong link between Alabama and the NFL has never been stronger, as Saban continues to crank out player after player who goes on make his make his mark at the next level.
The following is a complete list of former Alabama players in the pros as of July 20. NFL rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by Aug. 26, and then to 53 players Aug. 30.
- Javier Arenas, Atlanta Falcons, CB
- Mark Barron, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, S
- James Carpenter, Seattle Seahawks, G
- Josh Chapman, Indianapolis Colts, NT
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers, S
- Terrence Cody, Baltimore Ravens, DT (on physically unable to perform list)
- Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills, DT (on non-football injury list)
- Brandon Deaderick, New Orleans Saints, DE
- Quinton Dial, San Francisco 49ers, DT
- D.J. Fluker, San Diego Chargers, T
- Wallace Gilberry, Cincinnati Bengals, DE
- Roman Harper, Carolina Panthers, S
- Jerrell Harris, Denver Broncos, LB
- Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots, LB
- Adrian Hubbard, Green Bay Packers, LB
- Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, RB
- Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans, CB
- Jarret Johnson, San Diego Chargers, LB
- Mike Johnson, Atlanta Falcons, G
- Nico Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs, LB
- Rashad Johnson, Arizona Cardinals, S
- Barrett Jones, St. Louis Rams, OL
- Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, WR
- Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals, CB
- Cyrus Kouandjio, Buffalo Bills, OL
- Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, RB
- Robert Lester, Carolina Panthers, S
- Cody Mandell, Dallas Cowboys, P
- Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles, G
- A.J. McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals, QB
- Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys, LB
- DeQuan Menzie, Carolina Panthers CB
- Dee Milliner, New York Jets, CB
- C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens, LB
- Kevin Norwood, Seattle Seahawks, WR
- Jeoffrey Pagan, Houston Texans, DL
- Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, RB
- DeMeco Ryans, Philadelphia Eagles, LB
- Brad Smelley, Houston Texans, FB
- Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals, T
- Damion Square, Philadelphia Eagles, DL
- Anthony Steen, Arizona Cardinals, OL
- Ed Stinson, Arizona Cardinals, DE
- Vinnie Sunseri, New Orleans Saints, S
- Carson Tinker, Jacksonville Jaguars, LS
- Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore Ravens, LB
- Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans, G
- Jesse Williams, Seattle Seahawks, DT
- Michael Williams, Detroit Lions, T
Team-by-team list with jersey numbers
- Arizona Cardinals: Rashad Johnson, 26, S; Antony Steen 71, G; Ed Stinson, 72, DE
- Atlanta Falcons: Javier Arenas, 28, CB; Mike Johnson, 79, G; Julio Jones, 11, WR
- Baltimore Ravens: Terrence Cody, 62, DT; C.J Mosley, 57, LB; Courtney Upshaw, 91, LB
- Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, 99, DT; Cyrus Kouandjio, 71, T
- Carolina Panthers: Roman Harper, 41, S; Robert Lester, 38, S; DeQuan Menzie, 26, CB
- Chicago Bears: None
- Cincinnati Bengals: Wallace Gilberry, 95, DL; Dre Kirkpatrick, 27, CB; A.J. McCarron, 5, QB; Andre Smith, 71, T
- Cleveland Browns: None
- Dallas Cowboys: Cody Mandell, 2, P; Rolando McClain, 55, LB
- Denver Broncos: Jerrell Harris, 52, LB
- Detroit Lions: Michael Williams, 89, T
- Green Bay Packers: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, 21, S; Adrian Hubbard, 49, LB; Eddie Lacy, 27, RB
- Houston Texans: Kareem Jackson, 25, CB; Jeoffrey Pagan, 97, DL; Brad Smelley, 47, FB
- Indianapolis Colts: Josh Chapman, 96, DT; Trent Richardson, 34, RB
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Carson Tinker, 46, LS
- Kansas City Chiefs: Nico Johnson, 57, LB
- Miami Dolphins: None
- Minnesota Vikings: None
- New England Patriots: Dont’a Hightower, 54, LB
- New Orleans: Brandon Deaderick, 67, DL; Mark Ingram, 22, RB; Vinnie Sunseri, 43, S
- New York Giants: None
- New York Jets: Dee Milliner, 27, CB
- Oakland Raiders: None
- Philadelphia Eagles: Evan Mathis, 69, G; DeMeco Ryans, 59, LB; Damion Square, 77, DT
- Pittsburgh Steelers: None
- St. Louis Rams: Barrett Jones, 67, OL
- San Diego Chargers: D.J. Fluker, 76, T; Jarret Johnson, 96, LB
- San Francisco 49ers: Quinton Dial, 92, DL
- Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter, 77, T; Kevin Norwood, 81, WR; Jesse Williams, 90, DT
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron, 23, S
- Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, 70, G
- Washington Redskins: None
- Calgary Stampeders: Juwan Simpson, 12, LB
- (Montreal Alouettes: Duron Carter, 89, WR)