Top 10 Alabama players in the NFL right now

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been churning out NFL prospects each and every year since Nick Saban joined the program in 2007.

Since his arrival, Alabama has seen 65 players drafted into the NFL — including 22 in the first round. Most recently, Alabama had nine players drafted in the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft — four in the first round, three in the second and two more in the third.

There are currently 52 players on NFL rosters who played football for the Tide. So, which of those 52 rank in the top 10 of former Tide players? Here is our take:

1. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

I don’t believe there is any doubt that Jones should top this list. He has been one of — if not the — best wide receivers in the NFL since he was drafted No. 6 overall in 2011.

Injuries have been the only thing that could slow down the 6-foot-3, 220-pound specimen from Foley, Ala. On the field, he has been nearly impossible to stop.

Jones has 7,610 career receiving yards and 40 touchdowns in 79 games — averaging 96.3 yards per game. At only 28 years old, Jones is still in the prime of his career, and he should continue to build on his already impressive numbers.

2. Landon Collins, S, Giants

Collins checking in at No. 2 could surprise some people, but he was one of the best safeties in the NFL in 2016. He finished with 125 tackles, four sacks, 13 pass deflections and five interceptions.

The most surprising part of Collins’ development has been his ability to be effective in coverage. Coming out of Alabama, Collins was known as a box safety with limited cover ability. He has proven scouts wrong so far.

The former 5-star prospect from Louisiana still has plenty of room for development — which is a scary thought when you think about where he is already.

3. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Patriots

Compared to some of the other Alabama players, Hightower’s statistics might not stand out. He’s never had more than 97 tackles in a season, and the most sacks he has produced was six in 2014.

Still, ask any NFL personnel person, and they’ll tell you Hightower is one of the best defensive players in the league. His versatility has been key for New England, and you’ve seen him at his best during the biggest moments of the season.

He’s a role model off the field and has shown that he is a leader on the field by consistently keeping the defense in solid position.

4. C.J. Mosley, LB, Ravens

Mosley brings a much different style of play than Hightower. At 6-foot-2, 241 pounds, he doesn’t have the size or natural pass-rush ability that Hightower brings to the table.

He is a lot more athletic, however, and has shown the ability to be a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker since joining the Ravens in 2014. His six career interceptions stand out in addition to his 342 career tackles in only three seasons.

Entering his fourth season, Mosley looks ready to take that next step toward becoming the next great Ravens’ defender. He might never be Ray Lewis, but no one really expects him to be.

5. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Packers

It’s hard to believe that Alabama once had Collins and Clinton-Dix as its last line of defense. Both players have since become key components on their new teams.

Clinton-Dix has averaged over 90 tackles per season. He finished the 2016 season with 80 tackles and five interceptions — which tied him with Collins for second most in the NFL for safeties.

Clinton-Dix doesn’t offer the same type of presence against the run that Collins does, but he still has been effective in that area. There is little doubt that Clinton-Dix and Collins both will continue on their paths of becoming premier safeties in the NFL.

6. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Drafted No. 4 overall in 2015, Cooper has had a solid start to his NFL career. He has gone for over 1,000 yards receiving in both seasons, and he’s averaged 5.5 touchdowns as well.

There have been times that Cooper has struggled with concentration drops, and he’s going to need to clean that up if he wants to show that he belongs among the NFL’s elite receivers. With QB Derek Carr’s continued development, Cooper is set up nicely to continue his success.

Cooper has the ability to play both inside and outside receiver, and that gives the Raiders a flexible piece to create match-up problems. Don’t be surprised if he climbs this list in the future.

7. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

Ingram had a rocky start to his career. Out of 96 possible regular-season games he could’ve played in, Ingram started only 45. Last season was the first year that he topped 1,000 yards rushing — finishing with 1,043 and six touchdowns.

Ingram has really shown development is the receiving game. Over the last two years, he has 96 receptions for 724 yards and four touchdowns.

The Saints did sign Adrian Peterson in free agency and drafted Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara in the third round of this year’s draft, but Ingram is still considered the lead horse in that stable.

8. Marcell Dareus, DL, Bills

On the field, Dareus has been pretty steady. His combination of size and athleticism has given him the chance to be extremely productive since joining the Bills in 2011. Off the field has been a different story, however.

He’s been suspended twice for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — most recently for four games to start last season.

Dareus is only 27 years old, so he is still in his prime. He just needs to stay out of trouble and attempt to stay healthy. On the field, there are few players in the NFL who can cause the problems that he can.

9. Ryan Kelly (below), C, Colts

Aug 13, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly (78) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts needed to give star QB Andrew Luck more protection, and they did that by drafting Kelly at No. 18 overall in 2016.

As a rookie, Kelly started all 16 games at center. In addition, he went the entire season without giving up a sack. He also helped improve the Colts’ run game. That’s about as impressive as you can get for a rookie offensive lineman.

The door is open for Kelly to eventually become the absolute best center in the NFL. If (when) that happens, he will almost certainly improve his ranking on this list.

10. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Bengals

Much like Ingram, Kirkpatrick had a rough start to his career. As a rookie in 2012, he struggled with even simple things such as his backpedal. For a couple of years, it looked like the Bengals had drafted a major bust.

But Kirkpatrick has started 29 of a possible 32 regular-season games since the start of the 2015 season, and he has steadily become a solid NFL cornerback.

The Bengals were so impressed with his play, they chose to key in on resigning him this offseason instead of retaining the services of guys such as Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler.


Source: Saturday Down South

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