Alabama football is on a different level than most college programs. At this point, building a 53-man NFL roster made up of former Crimson Tide stars has become an annual tradition. Every year, it’s fascinating to see the impressive collection of talent that coach Nick Saban has developed for the next level.
With almost 75 players in the league nowadays, the task of building an all-Alabama roster isn’t even about piecing things together at most positions. In a lot of situations, there are tough decisions that have to be made to get the number down to 53 players, which is what NFL general managers are asked to do.
Well, this year is no different. Below, we’ve put together the offensive roster made up of exclusively former Alabama stars who are now in the NFL. But before we reveal which former players did — and didn’t — make the cut, we have to make you aware of the parameters.
There are two things to keep in mind.
First off, this roster is only made up of current NFL players who went to Alabama. In order to qualify, the player either has to be on an NFL roster right now or at least been on one at some point during the 2021 season. Even guys such as running back T.J. Yeldon are not eligible because he last played with the Buffalo Bills in 2020.
The second thing to know is that I left off former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts for this exercise. Yes, it’s true that he’s technically a former Crimson Tide player who spent three seasons in Tuscaloosa, but he finished his career at Oklahoma. Plus, we’re not trying to make this all-Alabama roster too lopsided, right?
Let’s get started.
Who doesn’t make it: AJ McCarron
Quarterback was the easiest position on this list to run through. Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones are both still young, and yet they’ve already combined for 38 career starts in the regular season. Obviously, there would be a battle in training camp to determine the starter, but this position is good enough to win with, especially when you consider all the surrounding talent.
Yes, leaving former Alabama star quarterback AJ McCarron off the roster is unfortunate, but difficult decisions had to be made in order to get to 53 players. At 31 years old, the Mobile native is currently a free agent anyways. If an injury were to occur to either Tagovailoa or Jones, McCarron would be a quality backup option to bring in.
Running Backs (4)
Yet again, decisions had to be made here, folks.
The combination of Derrick Henry, Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs would easily give this all-Alabama team the best stable of running backs in the league. The power and overall rushing talent is present with every player, and what Henry lacks as a receiver can be more than made up with Najee and Jacobs, who have a combined 181 receptions in only 60 career games.
Yes, it was tough to leave Mark Ingram, Kenyan Drake and even Brian Robinson off the roster. They’re all good enough to make it, but I couldn’t justify carrying five running backs with the talent that was already in the room and the need for roster spots elsewhere. Robinson would be a prime candidate for Alabama’s practice squad though.
Wide Receivers (7)
There are some deep positions on this all-Alabama roster, but none of them touch the wide receiver room.
Out of seven receivers to make the final 53, six of them are former first-round picks. The other is a rookie in John Metchie who was selected No. 44 overall just last month. Heck, there’s even a former first-round pick on the cut list (and yes, it hurt my soul to leave him off, too). I guess that just goes to show the overall depth at this position.
Figuring out who made the roster wasn’t overly difficult. But figuring out who starts, who gets what target share and so on? Well, I’ll leave those decisions up to the coaching staff. At least those questions won’t be as difficult as finding a way to stop all of these elite pass-catchers. Good luck to whoever lands that responsibility on the opposing sidelines.
Tight Ends (3)
Who doesn’t make it: None
Is tight end the weakest position on this Alabama offense? Yes. Is it bad enough to keep this team from winning football games? No, I wouldn’t think so. The key for this group is to stay healthy. All three of these guys have missed at least some time at various points due to injury. There’s not a lot of depth here, so that can’t happen.
With all the wide receiver talent, this unit won’t be asked to do a lot in the passing game — even though they’re more than capable. Instead, they’ll be relied on for their blocking ability. Irv Smith and O.J. Howard, while not elite blockers, are at least good enough in that area to get the job done.
Plus, they can be redzone threats for either Tagovailoa or Jones. That’s something this roster needs with the lack of size at wide receiver.
Offensive Linemen (8)
I thought long and hard about finding a way to get JC Hassenauer on this Alabama roster. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough space. The good news is that even without him, the offensive line remains in fantastic shape. The real challenge is figuring out which five players start — and where. After much debate, here’s where I ultimately landed:
- LT: Jonah Williams / Cam Robinson
- LG: Evan Neal
- C: Ryan Kelly / Bradley Bozeman
- RG: Landon Dickerson
- RT: Jedrick Wills Jr. / Alex Leatherwood
The versatility of this group is fantastic.
Ryan Kelly is strictly a center, but Bradley Bozeman and Landon Dickerson can play any of the interior positions. Evan Neal and Alex Leatherwood are both capable of lining up at tackle or guard given their history, and I think Jedrick Wills and Cam Robinson — even without prior experience playing inside on the college of NFL levels — can kick to guard, if need be. Plus, Jonah Williams can play left or right tackle.
Only one of the eight offensive linemen on this Alabama roster went later than pick No. 37, and five of the eight are former first-round picks. Like I said, versatile and talented.