After Week 6 of NFL play, five former Alabama football players ranked best in the league at their positions.
For years, Bama players have faced critics saying that Alabama football players don’t perform well in the NFL. Some say the players are so well coached by Nick Saban that they reach their highest potential before they even turn pro. Others consider Tide players “a bust” if they aren’t named All-Pro or receive other accolades. The Alabama football program is held to such high standards that everyone expects the players to dominate in the NFL. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case.
However, five former standouts for the Crimson Tide are doing their best to debunk that notion.
Following Week Six of NFL play, more Alabama football players topped the list of “Best Player At Every Position” than any other school. According to ProFootballFocus.com’s, three former Bama offensive players and two defenders ranked highest in their positions.
Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Amari Cooper caught ten of thirteen passes for 129 total yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, Cooper and teammate Michael Crabtree are the NFL’s best receiving duo this season. Cooper remains a Bama fan favorite even though he left the Capstone in 2015.
Indianapolis Colts’ center Ryan Kelly topped the list for his position, despite this being his rookie season. Kelly, the only Alabama football player taken by the Colts in the first round of the NFL draft last April, has proven to be exactly what the organization wanted. Quarterback Andrew Luck needed solid protection in the pocket, and Kelly – at 6’4″, 313 lbs – fits the bill. Against the Texans this week, Kelly allowed absolutely ZERO pressure on the quarterback in 44 pass-blocking snaps.
New York Jets’ left guard James Carpenter gave up just one quarterback pressure last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Carpenter started every game for the Crimson Tide in 2009 and 2010. After four years with the Seattle Seahawks, Carpenter is in his second year with the Jets.
No one is the least bit surprised that Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots’ linebacker, is on this list. Hightower, a consistent playmaker for the Crimson Tide during his entire career there, continues that success in the NFL. Hightower’s ability to hide behind a lineman, then explode in the blitz is unmatched in the league. Against the Bengals, he tallied five total QB pressures on only 10 blitzes. The Boston Herald said “the unique linebacker was able to strike down upon the Bengals with great vengeance and furious anger.”
In his second year with the New York Giants, former Alabama football safety Landon Collins is making waves. Against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend, he led the Giants in solo tackles (nine), total tackles (11), and defensive stops (five). That doesn’t even include his role in a QB sack and two hurries on the blitz. The 22 year old New Orleans native played for the Crimson Tide from 2012 to 2014.
Alabama football players continue to dominate the college world. It’s exciting to see some of our very own stand out from the crowds in the NFL. Hopefully, this is a sign that more Crimson Tide players will make the transition from college to pro more smoothly, and will have successful NFL careers ahead of them.