When the 2016 NFL draft came to an end Saturday, the count of former Alabama players selected by pro football teams was at seven. But that doesn’t mean other former Crimson Tide players won’t have an opportunity to play in the NFL as free agents.
The big surprise of the NFL draft was that only one Alabama player – center Ryan Kelly – was selected in the first round of the draft. Kelly was chosen by Indianapolis. The second round had a Crimson Tide flavor with linebacker Reggie Ragland to Buffalo, tailback Derrick Henry to Tennessee, defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson to Detroit, defensive lineman Jarran Reed t Seattle, and cornerback Cyrus Jones to New England. Tailback Kenyan Drake went to Miami in the third.
But then the calls for players from the 2015 national championship Alabama team ended.
Undrafted free agents face long odds of making a pro football team, to be sure. So do those taken in the late rounds of the draft. The one advantage undrafted free agents have is they may have some choice in which team they will be trying to make. Again, long odds against, but perhaps there is a better chance of the player selecting a team he can help than if he had been drafted in one of the late rounds.
By Sunday morning, six of the seven undrafted former Bama players expected to have a chance in free agency had landed with NFL teams.
On the offensive side, quarterback Jake Coker is headed to Arizona. The Cardinals play in the stadium where Coker last performed, leading Alabama to its 45-40 win over Clemson for the 2015 national championship.
Wide receiver Richard Mullaney will be working out for Houston and offensive tackle Dominick Jackson is headed to the Washington Redskins.
Defensive players who have made free agent deals are defensive end D.J. Pettway and linebacker Dillon Lee, both with New Orleans, and safety Geno Matias-Smith, going to Washington.
One other former Alabama starter, linebacker Denzel Devall, had also been projected as a possible late choice in the draft, and he may be signing as a free agent.