Highest NFL draft picks from Alabama

Written by:
February 8, 2022
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Highest NFL draft picks from Alabama

Since the first draft was held in 1936, the National Football League (NFL) has used its annual culling of the top college talent in the country to grow its ranks, renew the popularity of the sport, and to increase competitive parity among all football teams. Though the draft process has undergone several iterations since that first draft took place, it remains true to its original design as an equalizer. In its current arrangement, the draft consists of seven rounds, whereby each of the 32 NFL teams receives one pick per round. The order of selection takes place in reverse order of how each team finished the previous season—in other words, barring any trades between teams, each round starts with the team that had the worst overall record and ends with the Super Bowl champions.

There is a long and storied history of teams coming out of the dustbin of failure to resurrect themselves through strategic drafting of top college players. In 1989, for example, the Dallas Cowboys finished 1-15, the worst record in their franchise history. But after drafting Emmitt Smith, who would go on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, first-round No. 1 pick Russell Maryland, and No. 1 pick and future Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, “America’s team” transformed itself into a powerhouse that won three Super Bowls throughout the 1990s.

And while for every top draft pick that went on to gridiron glory—such as 7-time All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning—there are equally storied accounts of star players who almost didn't make it out of the draft at all, let alone make a team’s top pick, the NFL’s annual strategic raffle has retained, for teams and colleges alike, its power to change the face of the game with a single draft pick. To this, one need look no further than the 2017 draft, when nine teams passed over Patrick Mahomes, who has gone on to take the once-flailing Kansas City Chiefs to three Super Bowl appearances.

With the 2022 draft slated to be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks born in Alabama since 1970 using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Robert Brazile (LB)
- Born: Mobile, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1975
- Drafted by: Houston Texans
- University: Jackson St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 10 (7 Pro Bowls)

#19. Richard Todd (QB)
- Born: Birmingham, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1976
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Walter Jones (T)
- Born: Aliceville, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1997
- Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
- University: Florida St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 12 (9 Pro Bowls)

#17. Andre Smith (T)
- Born: Birmingham, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 2009
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Julio Jones (WR)
- Born: Foley, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 2011
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (7 Pro Bowls)

#15. Dave Butz (DT)
- Born: Lafayette, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1973
- Drafted by: St. Louis Rams
- University: Purdue
- Years as a starter in NFL: 14 (1 Pro Bowls)

#14. John Copeland (DE)
- Born: Lanett, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1993
- Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Cadillac Williams (RB)
- Born: Gadsden, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Jon Hand (DE)
- Born: Sylacauga, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1986
- Drafted by: Indianapolis Colts
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (0 Pro Bowls)

#11. Keith McCants (DE)
- Born: Mobile, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1990
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Philip Rivers (QB)
- Born: Decatur, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 2004
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- University: North Carolina St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 15 (8 Pro Bowls)

#9. Chris Samuels (T)
- Born: Mobile, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #3 overall in 2000
- Drafted by: Washington Football Team
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (6 Pro Bowls)

#8. Marcell Dareus (DT)
- Born: Birmingham, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #3 overall in 2011
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (2 Pro Bowls)

#7. Quinnen Williams (DT)
- Born: Birmingham, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #3 overall in 2019
- Drafted by: NY Jets
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#6. Bo Matthews (RB)
- Born: Huntsville, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 1974
- Drafted by: San Diego Chargers
- University: Colorado
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Cornelius Bennett (LB)
- Born: Birmingham, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 1987
- Drafted by: Indianapolis Colts
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 14 (5 Pro Bowls)

#4. Bo Jackson (RB)
- Born: Bessemer, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 1986
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (1 Pro Bowls)

#3. Aundray Bruce (LB)
- Born: Montgomery, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 1988
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#2. JaMarcus Russell (QB)
- Born: Mobile, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Oakland Raiders
- University: LSU
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#1. Jameis Winston (QB)
- Born: Bessemer, Alabama
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2015
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Florida St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (1 Pro Bowls)

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