Alabama football stereotypes: Real or myth?

Last night, the Ravens draft the 34th Alabama alum during the Nick Saban era at Tuscaloosa, C.J. Mosely. For a complete breakdown and our opinion of the Ravens first round pick, check it out here.

When you mention Alabama players, two things immediately come to mind. Nick Saban rides his guys so hard that they are damaged goods when they get to their NFL team, and Ozzie Newsome loves drafting Alabama players. When 33 Crimson Tide players have been drafted in the last five years, statements like that come off as painting with broad strokes, no? How much truth is there really to those schools of thought? Myth Busters is on the case. 

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Here are the Alabama players drafted since the first draft after Nick Saban took over at Alabama.

2008- No Alabama players selected. Crazy, right?
 
2009 – Round 1, Andre Smith, OT, Bengals – Full time starter since 2011, only missed three games since. Solid player
                3, Glen Coffey, RB, 49ers – Backup to Frank Gore as a rookie. Retired in 2010 because his heart wasn’t in football
                3, Antoine Caldwell, C, Texans – Played in 39 games over the last four years. Currently a free agent
                3, Rashad Johnson, S, Cardinals – missed four games the last four years, and is a major contributor on their defense. Three INTs and 52 tackles a year ago
 
2010 – Round 1, Rolando McClain, LB, Raiders – Missed just two games in his first two seasons. Then…Moving on…
                1, Kareem Jackson, CB, Texans –  Regular starter from day one. Missed three games in four years. Seven career INTs
                2, Javier Arenas, CB, Chiefs – Primarily a return man, missed one game in four years
                2, Terrence Cody, DT, Ravens – Dissapointing, yes. Did start all 16 games of his second season in Baltimore though
                3, Mike Johnson, G, Falcons – Placed on IR as a rookie, and IR again in 2013 with a broken fibula
                7, Marquis Johnson, CB, Rams – Meniscus surgery pre-draft, IR and PUP stints as the knee kept bothering him over two years.
                7, Brandon Deaderick, DT, Patriots – His inactives were rarely injury related. Often late or missing from team meetings. Cut in 2013, signed by the Jaguars
 
2011 – Round 1, Marcell Dareus, DE, Bills – Pro Bowler, played every game since day one, looks like one of the top DEs in the league
                1, Julio Jones, WR, Falcons – Another “one of the best” in the league at his position, had foot surgery ending his 2013 season just five games in.
                1, James Carpenter, OT, Seahawks – Torn ACL nine games into his rookie year
                1, Mark Ingram, RB, Saints – Nagging toe injury could have led to his inconsistencies
                7, Greg McElroy, QB, Jets – Backup QB, nothing more
 
2012 – Round 1, Trent Richardson, RB, Browns – Missed only one start through two years
                1, Mark Barron, S, Buccaneers – Every day starter, missed just two games in 2013
                1, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Bengals – Remember him? He returned an INT for a TD the last time we saw the Ravens in action.
                1, Dont’a Hightower, LB, Patriots – Regular contributor who started 14 games in 2013, and 13 in 2012.
                2, Courtney Upshaw, LB, Ravens – While on the verge of disappointing, injuring not a problem here
                5, Josh Chapman, DT, Colts – Healthy scratch at times
                5, DeQuan Menzie, CB, Chiefs – Never really made it
                7, Brad Smelley, TE, Browns – No pun intended. I can’t make this stuff up.
 
2013 – Round 1, Dee Milliner, CB, Jets – Torn Labrum pre-draft. After a slow start, started the last 12 games and is well on his way to being one of the better corners in the NFL.
                1, Chance Warmack, G, Titans – Started all games in 2013
                1, D.J. Fluker, OT, Chargers – Missed one game last year
                2, Eddy Lacy, RB, Packers – Rookie of the Year 2013
                4, Nico Johnson, LB, Chiefs – Missed first three games with a sprained ankle
                4, Barrett Jones, G, Rams – PUP list from Lisfranc injury in college, got on the field in the final three games of 2013
                5, Jesse Williams, DT, Seahawks – IR with a knee injury, missed 2013
                5, Quinton Dial, DE, 49ers – Toe surgery prior to the season cost him a couple games to start the year
                7, Michael Williams, TE, Lions – IR, broken hand, missed 2013
 

By my count, that’s about 14 players who are solid players in the NFL that any team would be glad to have. Two guys who’s hearts just aren’t into football. Five who had serious injuries early on during the season. Three who had offseason surgeries to ensure they wouldn’t be damaged goods when their teams got them. Plus about 10 or so guys that just aren’t good, couldn’t hack it, whatever you want to call it.

Their injury rate seems high because Alabama turns out so many draft picks. If for every three good players Alabama produces, one shows up and has a season ending injury early on, that’s a ratio I’m willing to gamble on. It doesn’t seem like any more of an alarming rate than the injury rate across the league. Could be that injuries just happen, and it’s not a product of the school they came from mishandling them. It’d be foolish to pin, let’s say Julio Jones’ foot injury on Alabama.

Nick Saban sends the NFL damaged goods: Myth

Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama guys. Sure. He went to Alabama. It’s easy to draw that comparison. However, does he really go out of his way to draft an Alabama guy? Mosely as we have heard is a guy that was listed as a top 10 player, and would be a steal at #17. If Mosely went to any other school, it wouldn’t change that. Is it simply coincidence that the best player available when the Ravens pick was up also happened to go to Alabama? I’d say so.

Before the Mosely pick, Baltimore drafted just two Alabama players in the Nick Saban era, Terrence Cody and Courtney Upshaw. So Ozzie loves Bama guys. Well, apparently so do the Bengals, Texans, Chiefs, Rams, 49ers, Patriots, Jets. No one ever says those other teams love Bama guys. Maybe Ozzie does love them and holds Bama near and dear to his heart. But they don’t target Tuscaloosa talent any more than any other teams. It’s obvious the Ravens don’t draft with their heart.

Ozzie Newsome is the only one who loves Alabama players: Myth

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About the author


Mike Randall  

Ravens Analyst

Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently residing in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Shortly after he started up a Baltimore area sports blog called The BOHpen. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010.


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