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NFL: Alabama Crimson Tide Players

A complete breakdown of former Alabama players in the NFL, including teams, positions, jersey numbers, draft information and contract status

The NFL takes a snapshot of league rosters only once during the calendar year, Opening Weekend, because otherwise they're always fluid. It's the lone time that every team is set, even if it may just be for a few hours.

In 2019, Alabama had the most players of any college, 56, on active 2019 NFL Kickoff rosters. A year later it had 57, which didn't include five who had opted out of playing the anything-but-normal season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The number dipped a little in 2021, to 54, but it was the fourth straight season the Crimson Tide topped the league. Alabama also saw the most NFL players on season-opening rosters in 2018, with 44, the same number when Ohio State ranked second in 2019, after previously ranking fifth with 36 the previous season season.

Those figures don't include any Crimson Tide players who transferred elsewhere and made the league like New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara, or Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who did finish his degree at Alabama.

As for why Saban has been so successful in this regard, BamaCentral's Christopher Walsh touched upon it in his book "Decade of Dominance."

“Alabama has always had the name brand, recognition, the historical tradition,” former NFL general manager and Senior Bowl director Phil Savage said. “It always resonates with people, but I also think that it was just a stop on the circuit [for scouts]. There was not a lot of distinction between going to Alabama versus Tennessee, Auburn or Georgia. It was just one of the stops.

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“Once Nick Saban got there, honestly in the Southeast it has become the stop.”

Besides the Crimson Tide’s obvious high level of talent, there are three other major contributing factors.

First, Saban’s “process” is comparable to how an NFL team runs things, along with schemes that are both complex and pro friendly. Former safety Mark Barron went so far as to say that learning the Crimson Tide’s defense was tougher than anything he’s had to do in the NFL, and he’s not only switched teams but positions — from safety to linebacker.

“It’s very difficult,” former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans said in agreement. “It just takes time.”

Saban has also had an open-door policy to the NFL and was known for being accommodating to scouts, who are often seen on the sidelines during practices. In addition to checking out prize prospects for the next draft, with Alabama having quality players at every position, it gave them an immediate baseline by which to evaluate all others that they’ll see.

“When I was the scouting director of the Ravens (1996-2002), one of the first stop I made every August was the University of Miami,” Savage said. “I knew I was going to see players at virtually every position and now I could start making comparisons right away with Ed Reed at safety, Kellen Winslow at tight end, whomever.

"Alabama is very similar."

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown against the Bills at Nissan Stadium Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (7) in action during the game between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium
Ryan Kelly
Najee Harris
Derrick Thomas
New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath during the 1969 preseason against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Wide receiver Julio Jones (Alabama) is introduced as the number six overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (left) poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New York Jets as the No. 3 pick during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in downtown Nashville.
Kenny Stabler and John Madden after winning the Super Bowl
Cleveland Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome (82) catches a 16 yard touchdown pass against Miami Dolphins linebacker Alex Moyer (54) during the 1985 AFC Divisional Playoffs at the Orange Bowl. The Dolphins defeated the Browns 24-21.

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