The All-Alabama NFL Team
Over the last decade-plus, Nick Saban has turned Alabama into an NFL factory the likes of which we've never seen in college football. Every fall, Saban's teams rank among the best in the country and compete for national championships. Every spring, numerous players from those teams enter the NFL draft and are selected. Saban's program is widely recognized as the best in the NCAA for preparing players to acclimate quickly and contribute at the highest level. As a result, dozens of former players are scattered across NFL rosters right now. That isn't even mentioning the great players who came before. Alabama's history is rife with elite talent making a seamless transition from the amateur to professional level and excelling.
The question that few are brave enough to ask is the one we have gathered to answer today: what would an NFL team made up of only players who went to Alabama look like?
Thus, we present: the All-Alabama NFL Team.
Alabama NFL Team
QUARTERBACK: Bart Starr
We kick things off with a player who came far before the Saban era. The legend himself, Bart Starr, remains the best quarterback to come from the Crimson Tide program (with all due respect to Joe Namath). He has legitimate competition for the first time in decades from recent first-round picks Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa. Bryce Young could end up making a strong push. Jalen Hurts technically might count. But for now, no Crimson Tide signal-caller went on to bigger or better things like Starr did.
RUNNING BACK: Derrick Henry
It was a legitimately tough choice between Derrick Henry and Shaun Alexander. But ultimately, Henry's absurd dominance over a series of years beats out Alexander's one record-setting season. The Tennessee Titans two-time NFL rushing champ is a physical marvel the likes of which we may never see again and the most dominant running back of this generation.
WIDE RECEIVER: Julio Jones
No question that Julio Jones would be WR1 for an All-Alabama team. He was the best receiver in the NFL for a good stretch between 2014-2018. He's capable of making any catch and has no business being as fast as he is while being as big as he is. Injuries have plagued Jones and prevented him from being an all-time dominant force but he's still a great player and no better receiver has come out of Alabama.
WIDE RECEIVER: Don Hutson
Hutson may have some competition for this spot behind Jones 10 years from now, when DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle make their mark. For now, Hutson claims the spot with his 7,991 career receiving yards that helped propel him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
TIGHT END: Ozzie Newsome
Yes, that Ozzie Newsome. The Hall of Fame tight end's career started in Tuscaloosa where he was a four-year starter and named Alabama's Player of the Decade for the '70s. He'd go on to a great career with the Cleveland Browns and eventually became one of the NFL's best general managers. Hard to find a better example of football excellence from top to bottom.
TACKLE: Chris Samuels
Samuels dominated for the Crimson Tide and got picked No. 3 overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. He was recognized as one of the better tackles in the league for nearly a decade, making six Pro Bowls in Washington. Not a ton of competition here, but Samuels is well-deserving of a spot.
GUARD: John Hannah
Hannah is widely considered one of the best guards ever so obviously he'll get a spot here. A two-time All-American for Alabama, Hannah went on to play 12 years for the New England Patriots and earned seven All-Pro selections.
CENTER: Dwight Stephenson
Bear Bryant called Stephenson the best center of all-time and who are we to argue with him? After Bryant coached him up, Stephenson played seven years in the NFL. A short career, but a great one as Stephenson was inducted into the Hall of Fame thanks to four All-Pro selections.
GUARD: Chance Warmack
The pickings are admittedly slim for Crimson Tide guards who excelled in the NFL behind Hannah. Warmack qualifies, though, as a multi-year starter in the NFL who helped the Philadelphia Eagles with arguably the greatest Super Bowl upset of all time in 2017.
TACKLE: Andre Smith
Smith was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide before entering the NFL ranks, where he remains today. Smith didn't have the peak of his peers on this list but starting at tackle in the NFL for over a decade is a remarkable accomplishment that should be recognized.
Alabama Players in the NFL
DEFENSIVE LINE: Jonathan Allen
Allen finished his Crimson Tide career with 28.5 sacks, an incredible number good for second all-time in Alabama history. His NFL career hasn't been quite as record-setting but he's still a good player for Washington.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Marcell Dareus
The very large Dareus won Defensive MVP of the 2010 BCS National Championship Game before getting picked third overall by the Buffalo Bills. He never managed to reach the same heights he did with the Crimson Tide but carved out a rock-solid nine-year career in the NFL.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Quinnen Williams
The early part of Williams' career is actually very similar to Dareus'. Both are huge, space-eating linemen who dominated the competition in college before getting picked third overall in the NFL Draft. Williams hasn't made a huge impact with the Jets in his first three professional seasons but the talent is obvious to anyone who watches.
LINEBACKER: Derrick Thomas
Of course. Thomas is one of the best linebackers to step on an NFL field and was just as good with the Crimson Tide. The Hall of Famer's name will always appear on lists similar to this one.
LINEBACKER: Dont'a Hightower
Unlike Thomas, Hightower was never the best player at his position and probably belongs in the Hall of Very Good rather than the Hall of Fame. But at his best, Hightower was the leader of championship-winning defenses up in New England and a hard hitter capable of doing everything Bill Belichick asked of him.
LINEBACKER: DeMeco Ryans
Ryans was a tremendous player for Alabama before winning Rookie of the Year for the Texans once he hit the big leagues. He led the NFL in solo tackles that season and went on to enjoy a fruitful 10-year professional career.
LINEBACKER: Cornelius Bennett
Bennett's best work at linebacker came in college, when he was Alabama's Player of the Decade for the 1980s with 287 career tackles. Bennett would go on to play very well in the NFL, earning five Pro Bowl selections and a spot on the All-1990s NFL team.
CORNERBACK: Marlon Humphrey
Humphrey was good after his redshirt season for the Crimson Tide but is one of the few players here to really take off once hitting the NFL. In five seasons Humphrey has turned into a certified lockdown corner with an All-Pro selection under his belt already.
CORNERBACK: Dre Kirkpatrick
There are a few young guns that could come for Kirkpatrick's spot here over the next few years but he holds it firmly for now. Kirkpatrick was crucial to several Alabama championship teams before heading to the NFL and playing at an average to above-average level for nine years.
SAFETY: Landon Collins
Opinions are split on how good Collins really is in today's NFL but he was a great player at 'Bama and is, at worst, serviceable on the field nowadays. At his best, which we've seen both at the college and professional level, Collins is a game-wrecker out there.
SAFETY: Minkah Fitzpatrick
We can quibble over whether Fitzpatrick should count as a corner or a safety since he played the former at Alabama and the latter in the NFL but it's my list and he's a safety, dammit. Fitzpatrick is great on the back end with two All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations in his first four seasons.
There you have it. A pretty stacked squad, huh? The roster is a little weak in the trenches, which is an interesting revelation. But the skill positions are predictably loaded and the secondary is dangerous. This team isn't going undefeated but a first-round bye is absolutely within reach.