Crimson Tide Top 5: Defensive Linemen

Throughout the month of June, Bama Central writers will pick the best five players in each Alabama sport, and for each position group in football
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Picking the greatest defensive lineman in Alabama history is like trying to pick a favorite ice cream flavor.

There's just so many to choose from and you can't go wrong with any of them.

The foundation of the Crimson Tide's historic program was built on stout defensive play, which starts with the monstrous men in the trenches. 

Bob Baumhower, Jon Hand, Willie Wyatt, Curt Jarvis, John Copeland and Eric Curry are all iconic names along former Alabama defensive lines of the past that invoke cherished memories within the Crimson Tide fanbase. 

Copeland and Curry led the nation's No. 1 defensive unit and had 10.5 sacks a piece during Alabama's national championship season of 1992 and Baumhower was a two-time All-SEC selection in 1975 and 1976.

Since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, his defensive lines have been a pipeline to the NFL that include the likes of Jarran Reed, Da'Ron Payne, Terrence Cody, Wallace Gilberry, A'Shawn Robinson, Josh Chapman and Dalvin Tomlinson.

5. Marcell Dareus

Dareus burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2009, compiling nine tackles for loss and six sacks to become one of the Crimson Tide's biggest pass-rush threat. He is best known for his efforts against Texas in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, when he intercepted a pass and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown, stiff-arming Garrett Gilbert on his way to the end zone in the process. 

He was named the Defensive MVP in Alabama's 37-21 victory over the Longhorns.

After a junior campaign that saw 34 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes defended and 10 quarterback hurries, Dareus became the third overall selection by the Buffalo Bills in the 2011 NFL draft.

4. Leroy Cook

A member of Sports Illustrated's All-Time Alabama Team, Cook was a force to be reckoned with from 1972-1975. 

Following both his junior and senior seasons, he was named a consensus All-American and All-SEC selection. His best year came in 1975, when he tallied up 85 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, nine sacks and four forced fumbles. 

At the time, his four sacks against Tennessee in 1975 was the program record for most in a single game. 

Despite a 13-11 loss to Notre Dame, Cook was voted the Defensive MVP of the 1975 Orange Bowl. Cook finished his career in Tuscaloosa with 200 stops, 27 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, three blocked kicks and 10 forced fumbles before being chosen in the tenth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.

3. Quinnen Williams 

Williams played the least amount of meaningful minutes on this list as he only started for one full season but he had, arguably, one of the greatest individual seasons that anyone at Alabama has ever had in 2018. 

He started all 15 games during the Crimson Tide's run to the CFP National Championship Game against Clemson, amassing 71 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks on his way to becoming the fifth player in school history to win the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in the nation. 

Williams was also a unanimous All-American and a First-Team All-SEC selection that year before becoming the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

2. Marty Lyons

As the only defensive lineman in the history of Alabama to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, how could Lyons not be inside the top five?

As a senior, he shined on his way to winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and being named a consensus All-American. Lyons was a key piece of the Crimson Tide's famous "Goal Line Stand" play against Penn State in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, which resulted in Alabama bringing home the 1978 national championship.

Lyons registered 119 stops in that season, which is still the record for most in a single season by an Alabama defensive lineman ever. 

After finishing with over 200 total tackles and six forced fumbles, Lyons was the 14th overall pick in the first-round of the 1979 NFL draft by the New York Jets, where he was a member of the infamous "New York Sack Exchange" that led the league in sacks three of four seasons from 1981-1984. 

1. Jonathan Allen

Allen is maybe the most decorated defensive lineman in Alabama history. 

During the 2016 campaign alone, after 69 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks, he won the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award, SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and was named a unanimous All-American.

From 2014-2016, Allen was a three-time First-Team All-SEC selection and his 28.5 sacks is second in Crimson Tide history behind the late Derrick Thomas' 52. 

The Ashburn, Va. product went on to be chosen 17th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team and has recorded 202 total tackles, 17 sacks and two fumble recoveries across four seasons. 

The Crimson Tide Top 5 will appear every day during the month of June on BamaCentral.

Crimson Tide Top 5: Introduction

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