Alabama ranks first with most players on NFL Week 1 rosters: How Nick Saban has sustained success

derrick henry

Alabama ranked first among all colleges with the most players (57) on active NFL Week 1 rosters, the league announced Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • This year marks the seventh consecutive season the Crimson Tide has had the most or tied for the most players on Week 1 active rosters.
  • Ohio State had the second-most players with 47, while Georgia followed with 46. LSU (43) and Michigan (38) round out the top five.
  • Alabama had the most running backs (six), quarterbacks (three), defensive backs (15) and defensive tackles (10) on the list as well.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Alabama’s impressive run

Alabama’s No. 1 ranking continues one of the most impressive runs of talent development in college football history. Under Nick Saban, Alabama’s produced 44 first round picks including three in 2023: No. 1 pick Bryce Young, No. 3 pick Will Anderson and No. 12 pick Jahmyr Gibbs. In total, Alabama’s produced.

Including practice squad, injured reserve and suspensions, Alabama boasts 69 players in the NFL total; with 16 teams (or half the league) with multiple players. Week 1 was a standout week for Alabama football alumni, eight different players scored touchdowns: quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (Eagles), Mac Jones (Patriots), Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) and Young (Panthers), running back Brian Robinson (Commanders), wide receivers Calvin Ridley (Jaguars), Devonta Smith (Eagles) and defensive back Brian Branch (Lions).

Three different players recorded interceptions: Branch, Tony Brown (Colts) and Kareem Jackson (Broncos), and rookie and Anderson became the first rookie in Texans history to record a sack in Week 1. — Smith

Draft day domination

Over the last 10 years, Alabama leads all college programs in first-round picks (30) and top-100 draft picks (62) so it doesn’t come as a surprise to see the Tide atop the list of active NFL players once again. Alabama is routinely at the top of the high school recruiting rankings each year and getting the most talented athletes to Tuscaloosa is a key part of the equation. But these numbers also illustrate how impressive Saban’s program has been in terms of development, even with constant changes on the coaching and support staffs over the years.

As NFL area scouts plan out their fall school visits, they know it will require multiple trips to Alabama’s campus because the program has the potential for double-digit draft picks in each class. But it isn’t just about volume, Alabama also produces several high picks and star-level prospects each year. Two of the first three draft picks this past April (Young and Anderson) were Alabama alums and three Crimson Tide prospects cracked the top-10 of my preseason top-50 draft board in August. — Brugler

Breaking it down by the numbers

Required reading

(Photo of Derrick Henry, former Alabama RB, in Week 1: Andrew Nelles / USA Today)

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