ESPN Names Bama RB, O-Line U
In a now-annual series from ESPN called Position-U, the "World-Wide Leader" named the Alabama Crimson Tide as the top school for running backs and offensive linemen based on college-to-NFL success.
ESPN's methods rank ten teams for each position group taking into account the quality of players from each school based on collegiate and NFL stats, as well as deeper database statistics from the likes of Pro Football Reference and ESPN Stats & Information. The series is limited from 1998 to the present, encapsulating the BCS and College Football Playoff eras.
Of course, it truly comes as no surprise the Crimson Tide topped out at these positions.
Alabama surely benefits from the NFL's use of running backs in a pass-first era. Mark Ingram leads the pack for Bama, heading into the longest tenure in the NFL since 1998 among Alabama backs, alongside a Heisman trophy season in 2009 capped with an undefeated National Championship run. Shaun Alexander assists as well with a 2005 NFL MVP and 100 career rushing touchdowns in a 9-year career.
Other notable names to give the Tide an edge for the position are Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson, TJ Yeldon and Kenyon Drake, among many others.
Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris, Jacobs entering his second season with the Raiders and Harris in his final campaign with the Tide, are the next names in line to continue Alabama's dominance at the position.
Naturally, for the Crimson Tide to send a collection of successful running backs to the NFL, it takes a strong effort from the big guys up front.
Alabama has sent eight first-round offensive linemen to the NFL. Ryan Kelly leads the way from Indianapolis as arguably the most successful so far. However, names like Chris Samuels and Evan Mathis were held in high regard before the Saban era. Andre Smith, James Carpetner, and DJ Fluker all enjoyed success during their time. Looking to the future, Bradley Bozeman, Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood look to expand upon the Crimson Tide's dominance on the offensive line.
Overall, Alabama only missed the list on two position groups, quarterback and tight end. Both are understandable. Tua Tagovailoa was the first Crimson tide signal-caller drafted in the first round since Richard Todd was taken by the Jets in 1976. Meanwhile at tight end, while OJ Howard and Irv Smith were high picks, neither has reached the same level of success as they had in Tuscaloosa in their young NFL careers.
Alabama was ranked second in defensive line and linebacker, third for defensive backs and eighth for wide receivers (though, we can expect the team to climb this position list in the years to come.)