Tide High In NFL First Rounders

The very best college football teams would not be able to defeat an NFL team. While a great college team might have a number of men who will be NFL draft picks, almost every player on every NFL team was selected in the draft. And those pro players are just that: it is their profession. They have matured, practiced, studied, and spent several years together in most cases.

Nevertheless, for over 50 years there has been discussion as to whether a college team – the national champion, as the most common instance – could defeat a bottom-of-the-ladder NFL team.

Many Alabama fans remember the remark of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi after his Green Bay Packers won what was known as the World Championship (now the Super Bowl) in 1966. Asked how it felt to be the greatest football team in the world, Lombardi said, "I don't know. We haven't played Alabama yet."

Ironically, that undefeated, untied 1966 Alabama team did not win the national championship, as the polls were fixed to make sure Notre Dame took the crown, even after the Irish played for a tie against Michigan State.

When asked by a radio host if the 2011 Bama national champions could beat a pro team, I said, "No. But they may have more number one draft picks than any NFL team."

It was a joke line, but maybe not far off the mark. And really the 2009 Alabama national championship team may be a better gauge of Crimson Tide number one draft picks vs. the NFL.

Alabama has had 10 first round draft choices in the past three years, men who were players on that 2009 Bama team that went 14-0 including a win over number one Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and a rout of Texas in the BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

No wonder those three teams won two national championships and produced a record of 36-4.

The Alabama number one draft choices on the 2009 team included:

In 2010, cornerback Kareem Jackson to the Houston Texans and linebacker Rolando McClain to Oakland.

In 2011, wide receiver Julio Jones to Atlanta, defensive end Marcell Dareus to the Buffalo Bills, running back Mark Ingram to the New Orleans Saints, and offensive tackle James Carpenter to Seattle.

Last spring, the four first round choices from Bama were cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to Cincinnati, running back Trent Richardson to the Cleveland Browns, linebacker Dont'a Hightower to New England, and safety Mark Barron to Tampa Bay.

But wait! There's more!

Also on that 2009 team are some Tide players who were freshmen who are possible future NFL first rounders, including offensive linemen Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and D.J. Fluker; tight end Michael Williams; tailback Eddie Lacy; quarterback A.J. McCarron; wide receivers Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood; linebacker Nico Johnson; safety Robert Lester; and defensive linemen Damion Square and Ed Stinson.

Thus, the final number of first round draft choices on that 2009 team won't be known until after the next couple of drafts. And it goes on and on to determine the eventual number of first round draft picks who played on Alabama's 2011 team.

But what about NFL teams and the number of first round draft choices on each squad? Teams not only have their first round selections, in some cases trading for more than one pick, but also have players who were drafted by another team and obtained in a trade.

Last season's Super Bowl champion New York Giants don't rank very high among teams with first round draft choices. The Giants had only six on their 2011 opening day roster. Indianapolis and the New York Jets had 13 each, Denver 12, and Baltimore and Oakland 11 each.

Here's how NFL teams stacked up with first round draft choices on the 2011 opening day rosters:

Arizona Cardinals – 7

Atlanta Falcons – 10

Baltimore Ravens – 11

Buffalo Bills – 6

Carolina Panthers – 8

Chicago Bears – 3

Cincinnati Bengals – 9

Cleveland Browns – 5

Dallas Cowboys – 9

Denver Broncos – 12

Detroit Lions - 7

Green Bay Packers – 6

Houston Texans – 9

Indianapolis Colts – 13

Jacksonville Jaguars – 4

Kansas City Chiefs – 9

Miami Dolphins – 5

Minnesota Vikings – 9

New England Patriots – 7

New Orleans Saints – 8

New York Giants – 6

New York Jets – 13

Oakland Raiders – 11

Philadelphia Eagles – 10

Pittsburgh Steelers – 9

San Diego Chargers – 8

San Francisco 49ers – 8

Seattle Seahawks – 8

St. Louis Rams – 7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 7

Tennessee Titans – 5

Washington Redskins – 10

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