The historical ties between the NFL Draft and Alabama are evident, particularly with Pick No. 23.

In this image captured by AP Photo/Mark Duncan, Ozzie Newsome is seen posing with his bust during the enshrinement ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 7, 1999, in Canton, Ohio.

Mark Inabinett reports that the 2024 NFL Draft commences on April 25 in Detroit, featuring the selection of the first 32 picks in the first round. Across the span of 88 NFL drafts, teams have drafted 128 prospects who honed their skills at Alabama high schools and colleges in the first round. Additionally, another 29 players, while not first-round picks, were selected within the first 32 picks. is marking the countdown to the draft by spotlighting players with Alabama football connections who have been chosen in the first 32 picks.

In the 1978 NFL Draft, three Alabama players were chosen within the first 32 picks, and remarkably, three of them went on to become members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Among them is tight end Ozzie Newsome, who is a part of both distinguished groups.

In the 1978 draft, the Houston Oilers kicked off proceedings by selecting Texas running back Earl Campbell. Following suit, the Green Bay Packers secured Stanford wide receiver James Lofton with the sixth overall pick. Finally, at the 23rd spot, the Cleveland Browns made the astute decision to choose Ozzie Newsome.

Five picks ahead of the Cleveland Browns’ selection of Ozzie Newsome, the New England Patriots chose offensive tackle Bob Cryder, hailing from the 1977 Alabama team that finished as the runner-up in the final polls to Notre Dame. Subsequently, at the 30th spot, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added Crimson Tide fullback Johnny Davis to their roster.


Newsome’s illustrious NFL career spanned 13 seasons, all of which were spent with the Cleveland Browns. Throughout 198 regular-season games, the former Colbert County High School standout amassed 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns.


Upon retiring after the 1990 season, Newsome stood as the fourth-leading receiver in NFL history in terms of career receptions. Additionally, he had surpassed Dante Lavelli’s franchise records for career receptions and receiving yards. Remarkably, Newsome still holds these team records more than three decades after his final game.


It’s worth noting that these impressive statistics do not include Newsome’s postseason contributions, which amounted to 27 receptions for 373 yards and one touchdown across 10 playoff games.

After concluding his playing career following the 1990 season, Ozzie Newsome held the esteemed title of fourth all-time in NFL history for career receptions. Notably, he shattered Dante Lavelli’s franchise records for career receptions and receiving yards, records he continues to hold over three decades after his retirement.


Newsome’s involvement with the Browns persisted beyond his playing days, as he transitioned into the team’s personnel department. He remained a vital figure when the franchise relocated to Baltimore, where he played a pivotal role in the Ravens’ draft selections for an impressive 23 years.


Furthermore, four other prospects with Alabama football ties have been selected at No. 23 in NFL Draft history:


– Back Charley Holm (Ensley, Alabama): In 1939, the Washington Redskins chose him. Despite being a Birmingham News All-State selection in 1934 and a standout player at Alabama, Holm’s NFL career never materialized. Unfortunately, he sustained a knee injury during the third quarter of Alabama’s game against Georgia Tech on November 12, 1938, which ultimately marked his final appearance. As a result, he missed Alabama’s season finale victory over Vanderbilt.

Running back Antowain Smith, hailing from Stanhope Elmore, was selected in 1997 by the Buffalo Bills. Throughout his nine-season NFL career, Smith showcased his talent, rushing for a total of 6,881 yards. Notably, he played a crucial role in two Super Bowl victories, leading the New England Patriots in rushing yards in both victories: the 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002, and the 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004.


Defensive end Dee Ford, representing St. Clair County and Auburn, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. Although injuries hindered Ford’s NFL journey, he managed to make a significant impact during his career. In particular, his standout performance in 2018, where he recorded 13 sacks, led the NFL in forced fumbles with seven, and earned a Pro Bowl selection, showcased his potential despite his injury setbacks.

Offensive tackle Tytus Howard (Monroe County, Alabama State): 2019 by the Houston Texans. The only first-round selection from Alabama State, Howard has started all 61 of his games with the Texans while dealing with a couple of injury setbacks. The former Monroe County High School quarterback has been a regular at right tackle and left guard so far in his career.


The Minnesota Vikings hold the 23rd selection in this year’s draft.

Written by schooleiwa

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