Which Alabama players turned out to be the best NFL draft picks? Who are the ten greatest selections in the school’s history?
Who are the ten best NFL draft picks of all-time to come from the University of Alabama?
It’s not just about who the best pro prospects were, or even who had the best NFL careers. It’s about which former Alabama Crimson Tide stars were the best draft picks for the teams that drafted them.
It doesn’t really help an NFL team to take a player and then see him rock – or spend a key part of his career – doing big things for someone else.
There might have been a few all-time greats coming from Alabama, but not as many as you might think. The defensive linemen weren’t that deep, and other than a few Hall of Famers, there weren’t too many offensive linemen, either.
Crimson Tide stars haven’t exactly fizzled, but most of the college greats didn’t set the world on fire at the next level. These ten, though, were truly special.
The ten greatest Alabama Crimson Tide NFL draft picks were …
10. LB Lee Roy Jordan, Dallas
1963, 1st round, 6th pick overall
Pick Before: T Bob Vogel, Ohio State by Baltimore
Pick After: TE Pat Richter, Wisconsin by Washington
Somehow not in the Hall of Fame, Jordan played 14 years as a mainstay of the Dallas defense, going to five Pro Bowls and being named to the 1969 All-Pro team. He turned out to be one of the best picks by far in the 1963 draft, turning in a very steady, very good all-around career. He might not have always been sensational, but longevity matters here.
9. QB Ken Stabler, Oakland
1968, 2nd round, 52nd pick overall
Pick Before: OG Mike LaHood, Wyoming by Los Angeles Rams
Pick After: WR John Wright, Illinois by Atlanta
One of the coolest quarterbacks of all-time, the late Oakland leader earned a spot into the Hall of Fame even though he threw 222 career picks and 194 touchdown passes.
Even so, he went on a run earning a reputation as one of the NFL’s greatest winners, going 69-26-1 for Oakland with several historically great plays and a Super Bowl win. A four-time Pro Bowler and the 1974 MVP and All-Pro, he was the exact right quarterback for the right team.
8. LB Cornelius Bennett, Indianapolis
1987, 1st round, 2nd pick overall
Pick Before: QB Vinny Testaverde, Miami by Tampa Bay
Pick After: RB Alonzo Highsmith, Miami by Houston
An exception had to be made for Bennett, considering he was drafted by Indianapolis. Unable to get signed by the Colts, he was traded to Buffalo – Indy ended up using the move to get Eric Dickerson – but he’ll get credit here since he was a Bill right away.
With 71.5 career sacks and 1,048 tackles, he’s a fringe Hall of Famer – he belongs in the Hall of the Very, Very Good.
By his second year, he was special earning All-Pro honors making 103 tackles with 9.5 sacks, while going to five Pro Bowls in his first seven years. His production fluctuated, and he eventually went to Atlanta and finished up at Indianapolis, but he was still one of the key parts to a defensive puzzle that went to four straight Super Bowls.
7. C Dwight Stephenson, Miami
1980, 2nd round, 48th pick overall
Pick Before: WR Ralph Clayton, Michigan by New York Jets
Pick After: WR Kevin House, Southern Illinois by Tampa Bay
The gold standard of centers, Stephenson needed a few years to take over the job, and then he came up with a special five-year run anchoring a line that kept Dan Marino upright. The Hall of Fame blocker finished his career with five straight Pro Bowl appearances and four straight All-Pro nods. While he wasn’t massive by today’s standards and just 6-2 and 255 pounds, he was a technical marvel.
6. QB Bart Starr, Green Bay
1956, 17th round, 200th pick overall
Pick Before: DE Bill Danenhauer, Emporia State by Baltimore
Pick After: T Tom Mooney, Miami University by New York Giants
Okay, so he spent most of his career handing the ball off, but he was still the perfect field general for Vince Lombardi, going from being a 17th round throwaway pick to being a part of some of the most fabled teams of all-time.
From the Ice Bowl to the first two Super Bowls, Starr led the way to seven championships in all as the 15-year starter after getting just one start as a rookie.
Starr was an easy Hall of Famer who was named the 1966 MVP and All-Pro and went to four Pro Bowls.