The football program at Alabama is one of the most renowned in the history of college football. Though there have been some down times over the years, their successes rival, and even eclipse, just about every other program in the sport. With legendary head coaches such as Paul "Bear" Bryant and Nick Saban credited to their ranks, the Crimson Tide get a ton of well-deserved publicity. Following with the theme, they have had a lot of high-profile players enter the NFL Draft. Many of those names were expected to do big things in the pros, but there have been varying degrees of success. In fact, many Alabama players have been overall letdowns in the NFL.
This isn't always the case, as evidenced by players such as Julio Jones and Amari Cooper, former Crimson Tide players who are some of the best players in the sport right now. However, going back a bit further into previous decades, and even taking into account some of the more recent drafts, you can witness a whole bunch of former Alabama players who never did much of anything in the NFL, despite being first or second round selections. Let's see which ones fit the bill.
Ranked below are 15 Alabama Crimson Tide players who ended up being NFL busts.
15 Rolando McClain
McClain is disappointing, because his raw potential was off the charts when he was drafted eighth overall by the Raiders in 2010. After a few seasons in Oakland that showed some promise, his career took a complete nosedive, as he went to the Cowboys and suffered numerous suspensions and suffered from poor play on the field. He was suspended for the entirety of last season, and his career in the NFL appears to be on the outs at the moment. He was truly considered to be a top playmaker as a linebacker in the 2010 draft, and it just never came to fruition. While he could feasibly return to football in some form over the next couple of years, it's probably not going to be as a member of an NFL team. He was very talented in college, but as an eighth overall pick, McClain's career has been nothing less than a certified bust.
14 Jon Hand
While he may have had a relatively productive career with the Colts for almost a decade, Hand never quite lived up to the potential that his fourth overall selection said he would be. He was taken in that spot during the 1986 draft, and outside of one year, his numbers were middling for a defensive end. Hand was never able to approach the kind of sack levels that the most elite players at his position were able to achieve. His production would have been fine for a mid-round pick, but as a top-five selection, it left a lot to be desired. Not a complete failure for sure, but Hand certainly should have done better in the NFL ranks. Chalk him up as a certified disappointment, all things considered.
13 Antonio Langham
Langham spent seven OK seasons in the NFL, but played on four different teams in that span of time (though one was for the Browns' transition to Baltimore for the Ravens' debut season), proving that he was expendable. Cleveland took him ninth overall in the 1994 draft, and as an NFL corner his career was very much up-and-down. Even though he had a few solid seasons, a top-ten corner should be able to be a shutdown player on the outside of the field for much longer than Langham proved, and with more consistency to boot. In all, he was very underwhelming, and his career didn't have the longevity that many thought he would, as he called it quits at the end of the 2000 season as a member of the Patriots. Langham never materialized into an upper-tier player at his position in the pro ranks.
12 David Palmer
Granted, as a second-round pick, Palmer didn't have quite the lofty level of expectations attached to some other names on this list. Still, the second round is a high selection, and wide receivers selected in that round are generally supposed to turn into something more than just a kick returner. Still, that's that's Palmer ended up becoming. He was selected by the Vikings, and almost immediately he was the team's return man, but did little with the actual offense. This wasn't likely to be the plan for him, as it wouldn't have warranted such a high draft pick. To his credit, Palmer spent seven seasons in the NFL, all in Minnesota, but he never lived up to his expectations as a highly drafted receiver, and instead found himself looking up at a lot of punts instead of passes.
11 Mark Barron
Drafted seventh overall in the 2012 draft, Barron hasn't been a complete disappointment, but he definitely hasn't lived up to hype of being one of the best safeties in the league. As a versatile kind of player who can line up up at safety or linebacker, he's OK, but he's just a garden variety player when it comes down to it from a production standpoint. He does remain a starter on the Rams, after spending the first two years of his career with the Buccaneers, so he has proven that he's not a complete bust. But overall, at this stage of the game he's not likely to get any better, and produces more like a third round player than he does a top-ten overall pick. He definitely belongs in the NFL, just not at the position he was drafted at.
10 Siran Stacy
A second round pick of the Eagles in 1992, Stacy only played for one game off the bench in Philly that season, and it was his only season in the NFL as it turned out. Despite his prolific career at Alabama, he never transitioned into the professional ranks at all. For a second round investment, that's an absolutely terrible return. Stacy eventually transitioned to NFL Europe, where he became the leading all-time rusher for the Scottish Claymores. That didn't help the Eagles though, who were expecting some real production from him in the NFL ranks. They didn't get their wish, and Stacy remains one of the more under the radar running back busts of all-time. Considering it was a second round pick, the effect is lessened slightly, but it still turned out to be a terrible decision.
9 Andre Smith
Smith is still on the Bengals, and when he is healthy he remains in a starting role at right tackle. However, he's missed long portions of several season since his debut in 2009, and can't really be counted on to stay on the field at this point. It hasn't been a horrible career for him, but for an offensive tackle taken at sixth overall, the production has been somewhat tame over the years. Smith never really turned into the All-Pro caliber player that he was thought to be when on the Crimson Tide, and instead merely became a "good" player that should have been something more. It's hard to shake the fact that he was a top-ten pick from his resume. Overall, Smith has to be considered somewhat of a disappointment, given his draft position.
8 Eric Curry
Another prolific pass rusher at Alabama who was expected to do big things in the NFL, Curry never could put it together at the next level. His best sack totals came in his rookie year in 1993, and from there he was only a marginal talent at best. Tampa Bay selected him at fifth overall, and he never lived up anywhere close to such a projection. Curry did spend seven years in the NFL for two teams (the other being the Jaguars), but he only spent roughly half of that time as a starter. A major letdown for an Alabama defensive player, and one that stuck around in the pros probably longer than he should have. In all, Curry's definitely a bust, and one of the more disappointing defensive end selections of the 90s as a whole.
7 Dee Milliner
Supposed to be the next great shutdown cornerback for the Jets who would eventually replace Darrelle Revis, instead Milliner became almost an instantaneous disappointment. He was taken ninth overall, and despite this signifying that he should start in New York right away, there were some who felt that his development was hurt by being slotted in as one of the starting corners as a rookie. Whatever the real reason is, after a decent rookie season, Milliner crashed hard as a player, and never again registered an interception as an NFL player, appearing in games progressively less, until he missed all of last season. It's unlikely that he reclaims any of the momentum he had coming into the 2013 season as a rookie, and he's a large reason why many people are wary of Alabama corners to this day.
6 John Copeland
This is another case of how a top-five selection can make a player look worse than they really were. Copeland played eight years in the league and was a solid defensive end for the Benglas throughout the '90s. But the problem was he was a fifth overall pick, and never lived up to those elite expectations. He was certainly a starting caliber player, but a draft position like that demands more than just "pretty good" production, and Copeland suffered as a result. Outside of one really nice season in 1995, his career is just garden-variety, and as a top-five pick, it's warranted to call him a bust. A bad pick for the Bengals, as Copeland never lived up to the hype. A big miss of Cincy here.
5 Dre Kirkpatrick
Having just resigned with the Bengals this offseason in free agency, Kirkpatrick is just a middling cornerback, when he should be much better. Take at 17th overall in 2012, he's spent time on both the bench and as a starter. While he's racked up some decent interception totals, it doesn't really tell the whole story, as Kirkpatrick has played on a very talented Bengals defense for the majority of his NFL career. This realistically will inflate some numbers, and he's an example of that fact. Kirkpatrick isn't completely terrible, but he still hasn't lived up to first round expectations, and is yet another reason why people tend to shy away from Alabama corners in the most recent of drafts. Good enough to remain in the league, but definitely a disappointment.
4 Kevin Lee
There's really not much to say about Lee's career, because it only lasted two seasons, on two different rosters. He was taken in the second round of the 1995 draft by the Patriots, and next season had a stint on the 49ers. That was it, and Lee was out of the league in short order, staying for less than a cup of coffee. It's not a first round bust, but it's still a bust for a second-round receiver, who should be expected to contribute in some fashion on the offense. Lee's numbers at Alabama may not have warranted a second round selection, and it's a bit curious as to why he was taken so high in the draft. Regardless, he failed to live up to such a pick, and his career never materialized in the pros. This is actually one of the worst picks in New England's history as a franchise.
3 Keith McCants
This is the second defensive end bust for the Buccaneers coming from Alabama in the 90s, and it's probably the worst of the two. McCants was taken fourth overall in the 1990 draft, and he never performed up to this elite draft position. He spent just two seasons as a starter in Tampa Bay, and was eventually cast around the league to a few different teams as a filler body, and nothing more. He retired in 1995 as a member of the Cardinals. Overall, he has to be considered one of the overhyped pass rushing prospects of all-time. A fourth overall selection demands high production for a long time, and less than 15 sacks in five seasons just wasn't going to cut it. A major disappointment for the Bucs, who just couldn't seem to get this position right around this time.
2 George Thornton
A second round defensive tackle who went to the Chargers in 1991, Thornton is the epitome of an NFL bust. He spent one season as a starter out of three, and spent time on two different rosters, producing almost zero value in any of his NFL seasons. There's just no getting around the fact that Thornton was a terrible pick, and couldn't cut it in the pro ranks in any regard. The second round should guarantee a starting-caliber player, and he was the furthest thing from it. What a major miss for San Diego around this time, and probably one of the bigger defensive tackle busts from the 90s as a whole. There's no denying it; Thornton was a scrub.
1 Trent Richardson
Richardson is a classic Browns gaffe, and one of the most overhyped running backs of all-time. Taken taken at the monstrously valued third overall pick, he was a disappointment almost immediately, and a bust only soon after that. He put up OK numbers for a rookie in 2012, but he ran with no vision, and it became clear very quickly that he just wasn't cut out to be an NFL player at the position. Instead, he was a college sensation because of Alabama's elite offensive line, and Cleveland evidently wasn't able to see through it in time to not make the mistake of drafting him. After he left the Browns in 2013, he spent two dreadful seasons as a glorified goal-line runner for the Colts before bowing out of the NFL as one of the biggest offensive busts of his era. Indeed, there probably hasn't been a more disappointing running back, or Alabama player, taken in the past 20 years.
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