Five Alabama Alum Named to PWRA’s All-Rookie Team
The Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) have released their NFL All-Rookie team for the 2021-22 NFL season. As many would expect, there were plenty of names on it that are quite familiar to Tide fans. Standout seasons from Alabama alumni Mac Jones, Najee Harris, Jaylen Waddle, Christian Barmore, and Patrick Surtain II earned them spots on this year’s list.
Mac Jones earned his way onto the list by having one of the best rookie seasons we have ever seen from a quarterback. Statistically, he completed 67.6% of his passes, threw for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns, only threw 13 interceptions, and posted a quarterback rating of 92.5. What’s more impressive than the numbers themselves is how poised he looked as a rookie and the fact that he led the Patriots to the playoffs. Things are only looking up for Jones as he seems fully worthy of being Tom Brady's heir in New England.
Najee Harris landed himself a spot on the All-Rookie team by being an integral part of what will likely go down as Ben Roethlisberger’s last season. The former Bama standout earned 1,200 rush yards on 307 attempts and caught the ball 74 times for an additional 467 yards. He posted seven touchdowns carrying the ball and three catching out of the backfield. Amazingly, Najee did not fumble the ball once until the playoffs. His 381 touches without a fumble are the second-most all time and the most all time for a rookie.
Jaylen Waddle had a stand-out season and set records despite having a rather pedestrian Jacoby Brissett starting at quarterback over Tua Tagovailoa for five of the Dolphins’ 17 games. Waddle caught an NFL rookie record 104 passes for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. The rookie reception record had previously been set by Anquon Boldin in 2003 at 102 catches. Waddle’s excellent play was a key part of the Dolphins turning their season around and finishing 9-8 after starting 1-7.
Christian Barmore was the only Alabama alumnus taken outside the first round to earn All-Rookie honors. After being selected by the Patriots at No. 38 overall, Barmore made an immediate impact. The stalwart defensive tackle finished season with 23 solo tackles and one and a half sacks. Throughout the year, Bill Belichick praised Barmore’s ability not just to create pressure, but also diagnose the offense very quickly.
The final product of Nick Saban’s program to receive NFL All-Rookie honors this year was Patrick Surtain II. Surtain was selected ninth overall by the Denver Broncos in an effort to bring dominant defensive play back to the city. In his first year, he played in 16 of the team’s 17 games before succumbing to two separate calf injuries before the season finale. Surtain recorded 45 solo tackles, four interceptions, and broke up 14 passes. One of his interceptions ended up being a 70 yard pick six.