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Alabama QBs within the NFL: Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa lead subsequent period of Tide's professional signal-callers

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Two of probably the most scrutinized younger quarterbacks within the NFL will face off in Week 1 on Sunday when the Dolphins journey to tackle the Patriots in Gillette Stadium: Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and New England’s Mac Jones, each from the College of Alabama.

They signify an unprecedented breakthrough within the NFL for the Crimson Tide in that they are the primary quarterbacks taken within the first spherical of consecutive drafts; they’re additionally this system’s first first-round choices since Richard Todd was drafted sixth total in 1976. Aside from Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler — Tremendous Bowl winners and Corridor of Famers all — Alabama has in any other case had middling to poor quarterback play within the NFL, from Jeff Rutledge and Mike Shula to Brodie Croyle and AJ McCarron.

Not that Tagovailoa and Jones have not confronted important criticism early of their respective careers.

Tagovailoa’s rookie season, whereas serviceable, was overshadowed by members of his personal draft class in Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, the latter of whom put collectively one of the vital spectacular rookie campaigns in NFL historical past. The Dolphins did not assist Tagovailoa’s case by pulling him from video games in 2020 for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had a greater grasp of Miami’s playbook. And it actually did not assist that Tagovailoa had no offseason to talk of with the COVID-19 pandemic, all whereas recovering from a catastrophic hip damage.

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Jones confronted related criticism in that a lot of it in contrast him to his 2021 NFL Draft counterparts: Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 total choice), Zach Wilson (No. 2), Trey Lance (No. 3) and Justin Fields (No. 11). Whereas many analysts acknowledged Jones’ cerebral strategy, good pocket presence and smart move making, many felt his athletic ceiling was decrease than the quarterbacks taken forward of him. Many additionally questioned whether or not his school success was a results of the expertise he had at his disposal (4 different offensive gamers from Alabama — DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris and Alex Leatherwood — joined Jones within the first spherical of the draft).

Regardless, each Tagovailoa and Jones discover themselves in good positions in 2021: The Dolphins have reworked the offensive playbook to raised go well with Tagovailoa’s strengths whereas getting him considerably extra skilled-position weapons to work with in 12 months 2. And Jones already looks like an ideal slot in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system.

Whether or not they can reverse the pattern of subpar quarterback play within the NFL by Alabama quarterbacks stays to be seen. Not together with Jalen Hurts — who completed his school profession at Oklahoma — Tagovailoa and Jones are the primary quarterbacks chosen from the Capstone because the Bengals took McCarron in 2014. They would be the first to have important taking part in time since Todd completed his 10-year NFL stint in 1985 with a 48-59-1 profession document.

Alabama QBs within the NFL

Displays gamers drafted gamers

12 months Identify Spherical (Choose) Document Profession passing
1936 Riley Smith 1 (2)
1945 Jim McWhorter 18 (181)
1948 Harry Gilmer 1 (1) 0-10 3,786 yards, 23 TDs, 45 INTs
1956 Bart Starr 17 (200) 94-57-6 24,718 yards, 152 TDs, 138 INTs
1962 Pat Trammell 24 (187)*
1965 Joe Namath 1 (1)* 62-63-4 27,663 yards, 173 TDs, 220 INTs
1966 Steve Sloan 11 (156) 0-1 134 yards, 0 TDs, 4 INTs
1968 Ken Stabler 2 (52) 96-49-1 27,938 yards, 194 TDs, 222 INTs
1971 Scott Hunter 6 (140) 21-18-3 4,756 yards, 23 TDs, 38 INTs
1976 Richard Todd 1 (6) 48-59-1 20,610 yards, 124 TDs, 161 INTs
1979 Jeff Rutledge 9 (246) 2-7-1 3,628 yards, 16 TDs, 29 INTs
1987 Mike Shula 12 (313) 0-0
1995 Jay Barker 5 (160) 0-0
2006 Brodie Croyle 3 (85) 0-10 1,669 yards, 8 TDs, 9 INTs
2011 Greg McElroy 8 (208) 0-1 214 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
2014 AJ McCarron 5 (164) 2-2 1,173 yards, 6 TDS, 3 INTs
2020 Tua Tagovailoa 1 (5) 6-3 1,814 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs
2020 Jalen Hurts 2 (53) 1-3 1,064 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs
2021 Mac Jones 1 (15)

*Denotes AFL draft choice

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A complete of 19 Crimson Tide quarterbacks, Tagovailoa and Jones included, have been drafted within the NFL. Solely 4 (Starr, Stabler, Scott Hunter and Todd) have hit the 4,000-yard passing benchmark. Solely 4 (Starr, Stabler, Hunter and Tagovailoa) have a successful document.

Not one of the three quarterbacks who preceded Tagovailoa within the NFL draft (McCarron, Greg McElroy and Brodie Croyle) began greater than 10 video games of their profession. Solely McCarron — a profession backup — has a .500 document and extra touchdowns (six) than interceptions (three). The 2 NFL draft choices earlier than them, Jay Barker and Mike Shula, began zero video games and logged zero stats for his or her careers.

Rutledge, a ninth-round choose in 1979, began 10 video games over his 13-season profession, passing for 3,628 yards and 16 touchdowns to 29 interceptions. He went 2-7-1 in his begins however did win Tremendous Bowls 21 and 26 as backup for the Giants and Redskins, respectively.

Todd has probably the most mileage of former Alabama quarterbacks within the NFL exterior the large three, passing for 20,610 yards and 124 touchdowns to 161 interceptions. He began seven seasons for the Jets, however finally could not lower it as a starter in New York, ending with a successful document in solely three seasons. He completed his profession in New Orleans, going 6-8 in his lone season as a starter there. Coincidentally, he took over for Namath and Stabler with the Jets and Saints, respectively.

Hunter equally didn’t succeed Starr when the Packers chosen him within the sixth spherical of the 1971 NFL Draft. Although he led the crew to its final division title earlier than Brett Favre took over, he was unable to be the difference-maker Starr was for Inexperienced Bay.

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Every of the quarterbacks instantly previous Tagovailoa and Jones have one thing in widespread: They ran offenses that prioritized the run over the passing recreation.

However Sunday’s starters are the primary Alabama quarterbacks taken within the draft since Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban modified his offensive philosophy to develop into extra open, extra up-tempo and higher-scoring. They’re, to this point, the best stewards of that system at Alabama, leading to quite a few data and accolades.

Tagovailoa loved a 69.3 profession completion proportion at Alabama, throwing for 7,442 yards and 87 touchdowns to 11 interceptions; he additionally has the NCAA document for profession effectivity score, at 199.4. Jones’ profession numbers do not match Tagovailoa’s, however his 2020 marketing campaign — his lone as a starter — is amongst not solely the perfect in Alabama historical past, but additionally school soccer historical past. He accomplished 77.4 % of his passes for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, having fun with a 203.1 passer score.

Will their school success comply with them to the NFL? Solely time will inform. However it’s clear Tagovailoa and Jones are arrange for extra passing success than any of their predecessors. It is solely becoming, then, that the following period of Alabama quarterbacks within the NFL begin the 2021 season towards one another.

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