Alabama in the Pros

Crimson Tide in the NFL: Offensive linemen with big hopes entering 2015

Photo by Navin Rajagopalan

Today starts our look into the upcoming seasons of former Alabama stars now in the NFL. We begin with three All-American offensive linemen and a former Tide tight end that has made the shift to offensive tackle.

Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals, Offensive Tackle

2006-2008

6’4”, 325 pounds

1 year, $6.3 million

Andre Smith is entering his seventh NFL season 23 pounds lighter than he was before his season ending injury last November. Smith got injured in a game against Houston during week 12 of the 2014 season but he is supposed to be back in the starting role for the Bengals to begin preseason. Cincinnati finished third in the league in fewest sacks allowed last year and sixth in the league in rushing yards. The Bengals want to speed up their offense this year and the entire offensive line needed to slim down before entering training camp.

Smith is a part of a very good offensive line and with a back like Giovani Bernard, Smith could be a large part of the offense. Smith was best at run blocking when he left Alabama but his ability to protect Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton has been noticed. The former All-American could have some competition at tackle with new draftees Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. If Smith can stay healthy this year, he should have another good season for a good team in Cincinnati.

James Carpenter, New York Jets, Offensive Guard

2008-2010

6’5”, 321 pounds

4 years, $19.1 million

James Carpenter was the man that was given the task of replacing Smith at Alabama. He played his first four NFL seasons in Seattle but signed with the Jets in March. Carpenter has dealt with conditioning issues throughout his career, missing a total of 19 games. He did start 10 games for the Super Bowl champions in 2014 and 13 games for the Seahawks last season. He is now the presumed starter for the Jets at left guard.

The offensive line has been a big factor in recent seasons for the Jets and not in a good way. Geno Smith seemed to always be forced out of the pocket while the run game was never enough to help sustain the offense. A bad offensive line plus the young quarterback was not a winning combination for New York. With a constantly improving Geno Smith, Carpenter could be the addition that the Jets need for a consistent offense.

Barrett Jones, St. Louis Rams, Center

2009-2012

6’4”, 308 pounds

2 years, $1.4 million

Barrett Jones is now in St. Louis for his third season and has bounced between three different positions. The three-time national champion at Alabama was named an All-American as a tackle, guard and center in his time at Tuscaloosa so he was prepared for the shifting before he got drafted by the Rams. Jones has only played in 10 games over the course of his two year career without starting. However, the Rams are trying to replace long time center Scott Wells and Jones is one of three players competing for the starting job. Improvement is inevitable while facing that defensive line in practice every week but the key for Jones will be staying healthy if he wants to make an impact in 2015.

Michael Williams, Detroit Lions, Offensive Tackle

2009-2012

6’6”, 304 pounds

Contract: 2 years, $960K

Michael Williams was always seen as a run blocker rather than a possession tight end at Alabama and the Lions believe the same thing. This will be Williams second season at offensive tackle after the Lions drafted tight end Eric Ebron. Williams hasn’t seen playing time in his two years in Detroit because of a hand injury his rookie season and the transition to offensive line in 2014. During camp this year, he has been taking first team snaps at right tackle and that should come as no surprise. Here’s a reminder of how good Williams was in Tuscaloosa. (He’s number 89 on the far right side of the line)

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