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Alabama in the NFL: A midseason update

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But Bama players are all busts in the NFL, remember?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll get this out of the way first. This article is about our Tide alumni and how theyre doing among the best football players in the world. If you are currently boycotting the NFL for politics, then by all means continue to boycott. It’s been hashed and rehashed. But if you decide to comment to make sure everyone knows you’re boycotting and why and all your other strong feelings, then I will enact the #nopolitics hammer without mercy.

Happy Gump Day!

Here’s a quick anecdote to demonstrate just how great Nick Saban has been at putting Alabama players in the NFL: Years ago, I was a young teenager with a shiny new copy of Madden 08 on my playstation. I loved playing with the Seattle Seahawks so I could call HB sweeps to Shaun Alexander all day. I also loved creating my own rosters.

I one day tried to make an All-Bama team. Alexander was obviously the running back. Chris Samuels was the main blocker for him, with Justin Smiley, Evan Mathis, and Wesley Britt contributing as well. Brodie Croyle, when not injured, was the QB, but he had no one to throw to.

The defense had some strong starters in Cornelius Griffin, Mark Anderson, Antwan Odom, Jarrett Johnson, DeMeco Ryans, Fernando Bryant, DeShea Townsend, and Roman Harper, but very little depth past those guys.

10 years later, I just created an All-Bama team with Madden 18, and it had nearly every roster position filled with complete depth (tight end and QB were the exceptions), and was good enough to be competitive with most teams in the league.

So, today I’ll break down Bama’s entire NFL alumni in a format similar to creating a depth chart.

This is pretty long, so bear with me. And feel free to skip along if you only care about the big name players.

Quarterback

A.J. McCarron- Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. has long been the backup for Andy Dalton, and is finally on the last leg of his rookie deal. Cincinnati has thus far been content with having a cheap back-up QB who many believe could be a starter on many NFL teams, but will be forced to act once his deal runs out.

In fact, they did act yesterday, reportedly agreeing to trade him to the Cleveland Browns for a 2nd and a 3rd round draft pick... Until the Browns forget to notify the NFL in time and the trade deadline passed. Oops.


Running back

Mark Ingram- New Orleans Saints

There was a time that many people were calling Ingram a bust while Drew Brees continued to pass the ball at a higher volume than any QB in NFL history. In 2014 though, the Saints finally remembered they had a Heisman winning running back on the team, and he’s gotten over 1000 yards in each of the last three seasons. He fended off free agent Adrian Peterson, and has rushed for 464 yards and 4 touchdowns while catching 190 more yards so far this season.

Derrick Henry- Tennessee Titans

Despite being behind DeMarco Murray, a back with a very good shot of being a Hall of Famer one day, Henry has managed to take nearly 40% of the Titan’s offensive snaps this season, and is running away with the league in broken tackles. He has 331 yards and two touchdowns this years

T.J. Yeldon- Jacksonville Jaguars

Yeldon entered the season gimpy, and the Jaguars had no qualms making him inactive for the first six games with Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory in the backfield. Last week, however, with Fournette injured and Yeldon finally healthy, the back was given his first nine carries of the season, and responded with 122 yards. He may not be who the Jags are looking at long term, but last week’s showing has turned some heads.

Eddie Lacy- Seattle Seahawks

Talk about a dramatic fall. After winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and following up that season with an even better performance in 2014, Lacy looked to be one of the best backs in the league. Injuries derailed him in 2015, and he just didn’t look the same in 2016. The Packers released him, and the Seattle Seahawks, a team struggling to find a running game after Marshawn Lynch retired, gave him a one-year deal.

He responded by getting beat out by a 7th round rookie, Chris Carson, as the starter, though he still got quite a few meaningful snaps. Carson then broke his leg and Lacy has kind of been the starter since, though he’s split the snaps with 4 other running backs. It really hasn’t mattered though, as Seattle’s O-line has been so atrocious that none of them are making it to the line of scrimmage anyway.

So far he has 42 carries for 108 yards. All of 2.6 yards per carry. Ouch.

Kenyan Drake- Miami Dolphins

Drake has been buried in the depth chart behind Jay Ajayi and only been on the field for 33 snaps this year, but he has returned 7 kickoffs. In any case, Ajayi just got traded, so there’s a very real chance that Drake is suddenly an NFL starting running back next week.


Fullback

Jalston Fowler- Tennessee Titans

Nudie is also in Tennessee, happily blocking away for Murray and Henry.


Wide Receiver

Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

If you don’t already know about Julio, you probably aren’t the kind of person to be reading football articles. He’s the best receiver in the NFL, save for maybe Antonio Brown, and has an argument to be the best player in the whole league.

Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Coop was absolutely outstanding his first two years in the league, but has been plagued by inconsistency and drops this year. Aside from two weeks ago, that is. He caught 11 balls for 210 yards and 2 touchdown against the Chiefs in ONE GAME.

ArDarius Stewart- New York Jets

Stewart has been in an out of the rotation, playing 92 snaps and catching 4 balls this season.

Kevin Norwood- New York Giants

Placed in Injured Reserve before the season began. Again.


Tight End

O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first round rookie has been easing into things so far in his first season. He had a huge catch that looked like the national championship games again in week 3, and went off for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns two weeks ago, but has been largely invisible the rest of the season-- getting about one catch per game.

Sounds about like his whole college career.


Offensive Line

James Carpenter- New York Jets

Carp is the starter at LG and hasn’t missed a snap this year. He’s considered one of the better, if not elite, guards in the league.

Cam Robinson- Jacksonville Jaguars

Robinson has definitely taken his lumps as a rookie, but he’s already a starting NFL left tackle, and has been part of the Jaguars’ resurgence into looking like what might actually be a competitive team.

Anthony Steen- Miami Dolphins

After taking the job due to injuries halfway through last season, Steen has started at guard all year for the Fins so far.

D.J. Fluker- New York Giants

Between nagging injuries and being with a new team, Fluker has only played 6 games this year, and 56% of his team’s snaps. He’s started some, and been benched some, and started some more. Who knows how it’ll turn out for him.

Ryan Kelly- Indianapolis Colts

Many believe Kelly to be one of the more solid centers in the leauge after an awesome rookie season. He missed the first 4 games of this year with injury, and is just now getting back into the lineup. He may be a great lineman, but Indy’s offense is so putrid it’s hard to tell.

Arie Koundjio- Washington Redskins

After getting waived this summer, the Skins signed him back to the team last week.

Andre Smith- Cincinnati Bengals

The old veteran has was a 2nd teamer at the start of the season, but has rotated in and out as the Bengals have played musical chairs along the line.

Chance Warmack- Philadelphia Eagles

The Belly hasn’t lived up to his college prowess. He was a below average starter for Tennessee for a while, and has barely been able to crack the field for the Eagles this year.


Defensive Line

Jarran Reed- Seattle Seahawks

When Reed started falling in the draft two years ago, Pete Carrol got so excited he almost lost his bubble gum and traded all the way up the second round to get him. Reed played well as a rookie, but has really stepped up his game this year. He’s played 60% of the snaps for the Hawks and has even started to develop a pass rush to his game. He has 14 tackles, a sack, 3 stuffs, a forced fumble, and a pass defended this season.

A’Shawn Robinson- Detroit Lions

Like his running mate Reed, A’Shawn has been a stalwart DT for the Lions. He’s played 62% of the snaps and has 21 tackles this year, plus a pick six a couple of weeks ago.

Marcell Dareus- Jacksonville Jaguars

After being one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the league the first half of his career, Dareus has regressed the last couple of years while dealing with numerous drug-related suspensions. His long-time team, the Bills, just traded him to the Jags earlier this week. As if they didn’t already have enough solid linemen there.

Jonathan Allen- Washington Redskins

Allen was a versatile chess piece and the D-lineman with the most snaps before he suffered a foot injury last week that led to him being placed on IR for the season.

Quinton Dial- Green Bay Packers

After making 32 starts with San Fran, the 9ers decided to change to a 4-3 defense, a scheme that Dial did not fit in. He signed with the Pack just before the season started and has played 35% of the defensive snaps so far.

Damion Square- Los Angeles Chargers

He just keeps hanging around. A solid contributor for the Chargers, playing 34% of their snaps this year.

Dalvin Tomlinson- New York Giants

With Reed, Robinson, and Allen all playing for Bama, Tomlinson was always the overlooked player. Now he’s playing 55% of the time for the Giants and has 9 tackles so far.

Ed Stinson- Free agent

He was a back up for the Jets up until last night. He was a multi-year starter for the Cardinals before that, but they got tired of dealing with him constantly being injured.

Courtney Upshaw- Atlanta Falcons

After 4 years of sometimes starting for Baltimore, Upshaw has spent the last two seasons sometimes starting for Atlanta. He’s dealt with injuries so far this year, and has only taken 39 snaps in 4 games he’s played in.

D.J. Pettway- New Orleans Saints

Plays for the Saints. Has not been in a game yet.


Linebacker

C.J. Mosley- Baltimore Ravens

Four years in from winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Mosley hasn’t slowed down yet. He continues to be one of the top MLBs in the league, and has 51 tackles and 2 interceptions this season.

Mark Barron- L.A. Rams

After struggling to live up to his draft status as a safety in Tampa Bay, he was traded to the Rams a couple of years ago, who moved him to linebacker and told him “go hit people.”

And boy did he respond. Barron has been one of the leading tacklers every year since, and is on pace to keep it up again this year. He has 50 tackles and 2 interceptions of his own... Plus a couple of souls removed from their bodies.

Dont’a Hightower- New England Patriots

Long considered one of the best linebackers in the league, Hightower has struggled to stay healthy this season. He had only managed to play 50% of the snaps this season, and then tore a bicep last week and will miss the rest of the season.

Reuben Foster- San Francisco 49ers

Foster had an eye-popping preseason full of big hits and interceptions and was named starter for the 9ers, but was injured before the season started. He was thought to be getting healthy, but then missed last week with back spasms, and is expected back by week 9.

Reggie Ragland- Kansas City Chiefs

After getting shafted in Buffalo for getting injured as a rookie, Ragland was traded to the Chiefs just before this season started. By mid-October, he had worked himself into the starting lineup.

Ryan Anderson- Washington Redskins

The rookie has taken 85 snaps for the Skins, but is little more than a rotation depth player right now.

Tim Williams- Baltimore Ravens

Same as Anderson above, but with only 60 snaps.


Cornerback

Kareem Jackson- Houston Texans

The quietest first round draft pick to play for nearly a decade ever? Jackson just keeps starting, and starting. He never gets talked about by anyone in the media. But I’ve never heard a Houston fan complain about him either.

Dre Kirkpatrick- Cincinnati Bengals

Injured. Takes a while to get back into playing shape and performs poorly. Plays awesome. Injured again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

That’s been the story of the last 5 years for Dre. This year looks no different.

Marlon Humphrey- Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have been easing Humphrey into the game more and more each week of his rookie season. He’s been on the field for 30% of the snaps, and that only looks to continue. He isn’t a starter, but the franchise is definitely invested in developing him.

Cyrus Jones- New England Patriots

Placed on IR before the season started.


Safety

Landon Collins-New York Giants

Once considered a sure-fire first round draft pick, Collins inexplicably fell the the second round. He responded by being one of the best rookies in the league two years ago, and landing on the All-Pro team last year as arguably the best safety in the league.

He has 44 tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, an interception, and 4 passes defended this year.

Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix- Green Bay Packers

He’s started every single game for the last 4 years and is one of the most consistent and productive safeties in the league, if not as flashy as Collins. He has 31 tackles and an interception this year.

Eddie Jackson- Chicago Bears

The surprise and feel-good story of the year, Jackson is the rookie starter for the bears less than a year after having his senior year of college cut short by a broken leg. He has 28 tackles on the year, and returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns in the same game a couple of weeks ago.


Long Snapper

Carson Tinker- Jacksonville Jaguars

Tinker has been the starter there for a few years, but was put on IR before the season started. The Jags think enough of him to keep a long snapper who’s out for the season with the organization for next year.


There are some other guys hanging around out there on and off of practice squads like DeAndrew White, Blake Sims, and Gehrig Dieter.

But for the most part, this is it. You can legitimately make an entire team out of Bama players on active rosters (though A.J. won’t have a back-up QB, unless you want Ardarius Stewart to do the job).

If you’re into to this kind of stuff, the Twitter account @BamaProUpdates sends out the snap counts of every Bama player every week. One of the best Twitter follows out there.

Anyway, that 2500 words from me, so I’m shutting up now. Happy Gump Day, everyone!