Top 5 Crimson Tide NFL Players
The NFL Preseason is less than a month away and soon Alabama Crimson Tide fans will be able to see its best alumni in action. Of course, that begs the question, who are the best of the best?
Following a record-setting 2021 NFL Draft, the NFL rosters 78 alumni on 31 of the NFL clubs across the league. (What's the big idea, New Orleans?)
Here are our choices for the five best Bama Pros in the NFL this season.
1. Derrick Henry, RB - Tennessee Titans
As if there was any doubt on where to start, the second Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama history tops our list.
Derrick Henry not only joined Hall of Fame company in leading the NFL in rushing in back-to-back seasons, but he also eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards on the season despite needing over 200 yards heading into the final week of the season to do so.
He's an animal, to put it frankly. Many analysts agree that he is the best running back in football, and his efforts have turned the Tennessee Titans into one of the NFL's foremost contenders to compete in the Super Bowl in 2021.
There's no doubt Henry will look to become the first back since Emmit Smith nearly 30 years ago to lead the NFL in rushing in three consecutive seasons. If he can do that, his Titans may have its best chance to overcome the Kansas City Chiefs on the path to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California for Super Bowl LVI.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S - Pittsburgh Steelers
Oddly enough, many believed that Minkah Fitzpatrick had a down year in 2020. While his run support may have been lacking, his true job is to be an excellent deep safety in coverage, to which he holds no equal.
Fitzpatrick recorded 79 tackles, forced and recovered a fumble and picked off four passes, returning one for a touchdown. In coverage, he denied half of the passes intended for targets in his area. He's still just an imposing force on opposing offenses as he was in his first stint with the Black & Gold.
The Steelers return many of the core pieces to its top-tier defense this year, but age and free agency have certainly taken their toll. Pittsburgh will have to lean heavily on Fitzpatrick if the franchise aims to rectify the disappointing end to the 2020 season.
3.Jonathan Allen, DL - Washington Football Team
Jonathan Allen is an elite defensive lineman in the NFL. The lack of success of his franchise should not diminish the fact. His sack numbers dipped last year (from six in 2019 to two last season) but sometimes the mark of a great player is the impact he can make that isn't plainly visible in the score sheet.
Take it from PFF, (their grades, not their social media takes) who ranked him 12th among interior defensive linemen with an 80 season grade for 2020. Not only that, but only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones had better pass rush win rates in true pass sets.
Allen played his role in getting Washington into the playoffs as his defensive line surged down the stretch. He and fellow Da'Ron Payne wreaked havoc on Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Washington Football Team may still have questions offensively, but there are no doubts about its defensive strengths and where the leadership and dominant mentality come from.
4. Marlon Humphrey, CB - Baltimore Ravens
Marlon Humphrey is one of the most feared cornerbacks in the NFL and for good reason. He's a turnover machine. In 2020 alone, he forced eight fumbles.
He'd likely be a bit higher on the list if his coverage numbers didn't dip last year. He only snagged one interception and allowed a career-high 61% completion percentage for his tagets and 651 yards.
Still, he'd make old school corners like Peanut Tillman and Mel Blount proud with his 82 tackles, 2.5 sacks and did I mention he forced eight fumbles? Only Hassaan Riddick had more than half that many in the NFL last season. Since Tillman forced 10 in 2012, only former Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis had eclipsed Humphrey's eight with 10 of his own and that was in 2013.
Humphrey faces some great wide receivers in the AFC North, and while he'll certainly build on his 2020 season as a coverage corner, he's still made his mark in the NFL as a man to be avoided by quarterbacks in the NFL.
5. Ryan Kelly, C - Indianapolis Colts
He commands one of the best offensive lines in football. His line allowed the immobile Philip Rivers to be sacked just 19 times, the lowest among any quarterback who started all 16 games.
He's the fifth highest-paid center in the league for a reason. Ryan Kelly does it all, and he does it all excellently. His 2020 season sent him to a second-straight Pro Bowl as he allowed just two sacks and committed just one penalty through 16 regular season starts.
The Colts are a darkhorse team thanks to players like Kelly, who don't garner much national attention but are excellent at their jobs. With new quarterback Carson Wentz taking snaps from Kelly this fall, he has a strong chance to get his career back on track and keep the Colts on track to contend in the AFC.