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Vote for the RBR All-Saban Team: Offensive Tackles

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How many former five-star, first-round draft picks can you really have at one position???

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This position might have the stiffest competition yet. Alabama has pretty much ALWAYS had an elite left tackle under Nick Saban, so nearly every starter there is getting a chance to make the All-Saban team.

The rules are fairly simple here, but also they absolutely will not be totally consistent. I’m making them up as we go and each position will be handled differently. I will choose the top candidates for spots on the All-Saban team, and different members of the RBR staff will present their argument to you as to why his player should be considered over the others. There is no criteria on the type of argument, so anything from stats, to important plays, to NFL performance is fair game.

There are two major players that are going to be left out of this poll: James Carpenter and Barrett Jones. Carpenter is because, despite being a first round draft pick, we all agreed that he’d be the least likely to get votes of this entire group. Jones, while an absolutely elite left tackle, was probably even better on the interior, and will be included there since there is much less competition.

Roger on Andre Smith

Andre Smith definitely deserves a spot on the offensive line for this Tide team. A huge get for Mike Shula out of Huffman High School in Birmingham, Smith was the first offensive lineman to be chosen Mr Football in the state of Alabama.

Smith earned high school All American honors from USA Today, was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and was one of the four finalists for the 2005 Walter Payton Trophy, given to the nations most athletic high school football player. He’s tied with Cyrus Kouandjio and Bryce Young for the highest rated commit Alabama has ever recruited in the 247Composite.

The big tackle was also a track star in high school in the throwing events.

Smith came to the Tide in a down time for the team, and injected hope into the Bama faithful. The 6’4”, 325 pound stud started as 13 games at left tackle as a freshman. With coach Nick Saban on board beginning in 2007, Smith earned All SEC honors, and was the teams player of the week on four occasions. In 2008 Smith earned unanimous All-American accolades and was chosen as the nations best interior lineman, winning the Outland Trophy. Smith also was co-winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best offensive lineman in the SEC.

Smith was the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft in 2009, being chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith is still active in the NFL as he is set to enter his 12th year in the league. Smith earned a basket full of honors while with the Tide, including:

2006 SEC All Freshman team

2007 All-SEC First Team

2007 Playboy All-American

2008 Outland Trophy

2008 All-SEC First team

2008 AP All-American, AFCA All-American, CBS All-American, ESPN All-American, FWAA All-American, Pro Football Weekly All-American, Rivals All-American, Sporting News All-American, Sports Illustrated All-American, Walter Camp All-American.

There isn’t another tackle on the board that can live up to this resume. Put down your recency bias, and vote for and elect Andre Smith to be a tackle on the Saban All Decade team for the Tide.

Josh on Cyrus Kouandjio:

Brent keeps giving me these fun Auburn flips, and I thank him for it.

Where college football is concerned, Cyrus is easily best known for committing to Auburn on NSD then sending in his NLI to Alabama. It was wild. As a five-star, he was one of the biggest fish in the class, and after committing was interviewed about how strange it would be to play on the opposite side of the Iron Bowl from brother Arie, who was already in Tuscaloosa.

After getting to campus, Cyrus worked backup duty as a freshman before winning the starting LT job in his sophomore campaign and contributing mightily to the critical SEC title game win over Georgia as well as the national title bloodbath over Notre Dame. Cyrus is a massive human being at 6’7” and undoubtedly heavier than the 320 lb. or so with which he is credited. Still, he had incredibly light feet in pass protection. On the field, Cyrus is remembered for his signature club move.

As the tweet mentions, the Cameroon native became an American citizen after graduating from Alabama. An arthritic knee derailed his pro career, but Cyrus was a phenomenal player at the big money position on the OL for Alabama. Give him your vote.

Brent on Jedrick Wills, Jr.

In the time I’ve been with Roll Bama Roll and doing an annual series breaking down the game of every single recruit, Wills was one of my absolute favorites to watch. He blew the SPARQ testing out of the water with a 49 ft powerball toss and, by SPARQ metrics, is the most athletic offensive lineman Alabama has signed since we started getting data in 2012. And his actual highlights were one of the only ones I’ve ever seen where it was fun to watch an offensive linemen.

In his freshman year, Wills quickly worked his way into becoming the first back-up off the bench behind a veteran line. As a sophomore, he beat out incumbent Matt Womack for the starting right tackle spot and led the team with 50 pancake blocks while only giving up a single sack and then made his way on to a number of pre-season All-American lists before the 2019 season.

He lived up to those expectations, too, starting every game as a junior and being absolutely dominant on his way to being named a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team All-American on pretty much every All-American list out there. He made rounds on Twitter with the NFL Draft analysts for his terrifying athleticism when running downfield and making blocks for Alabama ball-carriers, and is expected to easily be a first-round pick in the upcoming draft due to his blend of strength, athleticism, footwork, and hand technique.

Josh on Jonah Williams:

In an absolutely loaded field of OT competitors, Jonah Williams may just be the best of the bunch. He came to Alabama as a five-star can’t miss type prospect out of California, known for his work ethic, impeccable technique, and football IQ. He did not disappoint.

As a true freshman Jonah nailed down the RT job, starting all 15 games in what turned out to be a heartbreaking 2016 season. He was immediately recognized as one of the top linemen in the country, earning both Freshman All-American and second team All-SEC honors. When Cam Robinson left for the NFL, Jonah immediately slotted in at left tackle and became a stalwart there for two seasons. His highlights speak for themselves.

When all was said and done, Jonah left Alabama as a two time All-American in addition to his freshman honor, three time All-SEC, and Outland trophy finalist. Only teammate Quinnen Williams kept him from winning the Outland, and Jonah was taken with the 11th overall choice in the 2018 draft. This is a tough competition, but Jonah must start at one of the tackle spots.

BamaBrave4 on Cam Robinson

Alabama has had a few different can’t-miss, five-star studs at offensive tackle during the Saban era. But few were as talented as big Cam Robinson. During his three-year career at Alabama, CamRob was a force to be reckoned with on the left side of the offensive line. A starter from day one in 2014, Robinson was the key piece paving the way for 1st-Team All-Saban running-back Derrick Henry on his way to the 2015 Heisman Trophy. For all of the praise Lane Kiffin got as a play-caller during his time in Tuscaloosa, ‘Run Henry Left’ was his bread-and-butter. It was so effective that, despite having arguably the weakest right side of the line in the Saban Era, Alabama’s 2015 offensive line was the recipient of the inaugural Joe Moore Award for the best OL in the country. He even made highlight plays. Who could forget this perfectly legal crack-back block that drove Clemson fans mad in the 2015 National Championship game?

CamRob’s final season in 2016 saw him selected a consensus First-Team All-American. He was also awarded the 2016 Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman in the country. Those honors added to his multiple First-Team All-SEC selections. He ended his career in Tuscaloosa as a three-time SEC Champion and a National Champion. Not many other people in history can say that. And he wasn’t just on the team when those things happened, he was a key contributor to each SEC Championship run from 2014-2016. If we are looking for a combination of the best, most talented, and most accomplished players for the All-Saban team, please show me who deserves that more at OT than Cam Robinson. I’ll wait.

Brent on D.J. Fluker

Daniel Lee Jesus Fluker, being stuck at right tackle for his entire career, might be someone who could slip through the cracks in your mind when thinking about all of the elite left tackles Alabama has played over the years. But the massive mountain of a human being was one of the most iconic players for Alabama in the early Saban years that really encapsulated the offensive identity of the Tide at that time.

Fluker was a defensive lineman up until his senior year in high school, when, in the middle of learning a new position, found himself rated as the #1 offensive lineman in the nation and a five-star recruit. He redshirted as a freshman, and then became a three-year starter at right tackle for the Tide, leading the way in the 2011 and 2012 national championship seasons as Alabama’s run game thoroughly dominated the entire nation. That 2012 offensive line in particular is often considered the best OL Alabama has fielded, and Fluker was the senior, vocal leader of it.

While many OL tend to be overlooked players, Fluker’s boisterous personality always had a positive effect on his team, and, in the Tide’s biggest games, was seen willing his offensive line to escalate their play and totally dominate their competition as Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran roughshod all over Georgia.

He was drafted 11th overall by the Chargers, was named to the All-Rookie team, and started for four straight years before moving to the New York Giants for a year. Coaching changes in New York then saw him move to Seattle, where he led the Seahawks from being the worst rushing team in the leage in 2017 to the best one in 2018, and has been starting for two years.

Fluker may not have had the accolades of the left tackles on this list, but can any of them match him in sheer overwhelming run-blocking and personality?

And there you have the arguments. Because the poll system in our SBNation editor is a bit limited, here’s how we’re going to do this: I will post the same poll twice, and pick your top two guys. At the end, I’ll take the combined top two vote-getters and make them first team, while the next two will be second-teamers.

Comprende?

Poll

Who was Alabama’s best offensive tackle under Saban? (1/2)

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Andre Smith
    (125 votes)
  • 9%
    D.J. Fluker
    (46 votes)
  • 16%
    Cam Robinson
    (78 votes)
  • 1%
    Cyrus Kouandjio
    (8 votes)
  • 42%
    Jonah Williams
    (208 votes)
  • 4%
    Jedrick Wills, Jr.
    (21 votes)
486 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who was Alabama’s best offensive tackle under Saban? (2/2)

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Andre Smith
    (84 votes)
  • 13%
    D.J. Fluker
    (59 votes)
  • 17%
    Cam Robinson
    (73 votes)
  • 5%
    Cyrus Koundjio
    (22 votes)
  • 33%
    Jonah Williams
    (145 votes)
  • 10%
    Jedrick Wills, Jr.
    (45 votes)
428 votes total Vote Now