Originally Published: June 26, 2013

Picking the best of the best

>You're putting together a team of the greatest Tide players from past and present, but who do you pick? Do you load up on the litany of talented defenders to come through the Capstone? What about recent stars responsible for multiple titles this decade? Do they get some favor over Tide legends? Better choose, because you'll need the right playmakers. To answer these questions and more, TideNation put together a panel of Alabama football experts and made them draft their all-time Tide fantasy teams.

SportsNation

Who drafted the best all-time Tide team?

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    69%
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    17%
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    14%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,544)

Draft Order:
No. 1: Ivan Maisel
No. 2: Chris Low
No. 3: Alex Scarborough

Top picks by position:
QB: AJ McCarron
RB: Shaun Alexander
WR: Ozzie Newsome
OL: John Hannah
DE: John Copeland
DT: Marty Lyons
LB: Lee Roy Jordan
CB: Antonio Langham
S: Mark Barron

View the complete draft results.

Maisel's team: Going old school

By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

Ivan Maisel had the first pick in the draft. He showed his knowledge of Alabama history, taking several players from the great Bear Bryant teams as well as some Tide greats from the 1930s and '40s.

Best pick
I liked taking corner Don McNeal with my ninth pick. McNeal, who had a long, distinguished career with the Miami Dolphins, is best remembered among Alabama fans for the touchdown-saving tackle of Penn State receiver Scott Fitzkee at the goal line midway through the fourth quarter of the 1979 Sugar Bowl. Without McNeal's one-on-one stop, there is no legendary goal-line stand two plays later, when linebacker Barry Krauss stopped Nittany Lions fullback Matt Suhey on fourth down. Alabama held onto its 14-7 lead and won the national championship.

George Teague
AP Photo/Rick BowmerSafety George Teague is one of the many players with a championship pedigree on Team Maisel.

What player did you want to be certain to get?
Since I had the first pick -- did I really have that bad a season last year? -- by definition that would be linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. If he was good enough to be the best linebacker that Bear Bryant ever saw, he was good enough for me. Jordan made 31 tackles against Oklahoma in the 1963 Orange Bowl. Think about that for a minute.

However, the duo I most wanted to draft, the stars of the 1999 SEC champion Crimson Tide, I took with my second and third picks. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels and tailback Shaun Alexander excelled on the field and the locker room. That season was the lone bright spot in the misbegotten four-year tenure of head coach Mike DuBose. The leadership of Samuels and Alexander separated this team from DuBose's others. I wanted them on my team.

Best sleeper pick
My third receiver, wide receiver Paul Bryant. I think he has a pretty good grasp of the game. I see a future as a coach.

What player were you most disappointed to miss out on?
Chris Low picked ahead of me and twice took a player I had in my sight. The 10th-round pick hurt the most. I wanted to line up Julio Jones as my wide receiver opposite Don Hutson.

Overall assessment
My team has more players from the 1970s dynasty and the run of success in the 1990s than the current one. I found it difficult to assess where the current players stand in the long history of Alabama football. It's like standing too close to a work of art. You need perspective to appreciate it. Alex Scarborough took sophomore tailback T.J. Yeldon, and Chris took sophomore wide receiver Amari Cooper. I don't question their potential. I just think it's a tad too soon to say they are all-time anything.

I purposely laid back on picking a quarterback, knowing that only three could be picked and that Alabama has a long history of distinguished players at that position. Alex pulled a fast (and smart) one by taking Harry Gilmer as a defensive back. Still, I had my choice of Pat Trammell, Bryant's favorite leader; Ken Stabler, who led the 11-0 1966 team and is surely one of the most talented athletes ever to play at Alabama; and Jay Barker, the quarterback of the 1992 national championship team.

In the end, I took Barker, who started three years to Stabler's two, won a ring and took the '94 Crimson Tide to another 11-0 regular-season record. They lost a 24-23 heartbreaker to Florida in the SEC championship game.

I like my team. I've got a defense as good as Alabama ever had, two very good running backs behind a good offensive line, a smart quarterback and better kickers than either of the other Alabama teams.

Ivan Maisel | email

ESPN Senior Writer

Low's team: Great LBs and Joe Willie Namath

By Chris Low | ESPN.com

Chris Low had the second overall pick. He channeled Nick Saban and went heavy on linebackers and talented defensive linemen.

Best pick
My best pick was my first pick, the guy I had at the very top of my draft board -- the incomparable Derrick Thomas. I was actually surprised that he didn't go No. 1 overall. He's the measuring stick when it comes to rushing the passer, and I doubt we'll ever see anybody in the SEC amass 52 sacks in a career again. Thomas was the ultimate game-changer on defense and could completely wreck the opposing offense's game plan. It's an outrage that he's not already in the College Football Hall of Fame, and I was honored to get him in our all-time Alabama draft.

Joe Namath
AP PhotoJoe Namath would bring swagger and a quick release to Team Low.

What player did you want to be certain to get?
I gambled a little bit by waiting until the fifth round to get him, but Joe Willie Namath was at the top of my must-get list. To see that quick release and Rolls-Royce arm when he was young and before his aching knees caught up to him only underscored how great he was. Namath's brilliance went much deeper than pure numbers in college. He had that "it" factor and raised the level of play of everybody else around him. And yes, he also liked to have a good time. Can't blame him for that.

Best sleeper pick
I was thrilled to get David Palmer in the 14th round. Landing "Deuce" was like picking up three players in one, because he can do so much, and then getting him that late in the draft made it even sweeter. You're talking about a guy who can be a Wildcat quarterback in short-yardage situations, can break the game open with big plays at receiver and is a dangerous return man on special teams. Moreover, has there been a more exciting player at the Capstone over the last 30 years?

What player were you most disappointed to miss out on?
The player I most regret not getting was Barrett Jones. Not only was Jones a three-time All-American; he was a guy who could play anywhere on the offensive line and play that position at a very high level. All you really need to know about Jones as a player and a person is the sacrifice he made to be able to play in the BCS National Championship against Notre Dame. Jones was a winner in every sense of the word, and he has three national title rings as proof.

Overall assessment
My plan going into the draft was simple: Load up on difference-makers on defense, make sure I snatched up a franchise quarterback and surround that quarterback with plenty of playmakers. I'm confident I accomplished all three with the likes of Derrick Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, John Copeland, Jon Hand and Woodrow Lowe (imagine Thomas coming off one end and "Biscuit" the other), Joe Namath pulling the trigger at quarterback, and Julio Jones, David Palmer, Trent Richardson, Bobby Humphrey and Amari Cooper working their magic with the ball in their hands. It only solidifies my team as the one to beat with one of the greatest tackles to ever play, John Hannah, anchoring the offensive line. I've already picked out a place for my own crystal football.

Chris Low | email

ESPN Senior Staff Writer

Scarborough's team: Reading the future

By Alex Scarborough | TideNation

Alex Scarborough picked last in the first round and first in the second round. Those two picks, AJ McCarron and Ozzie Newsome, highlight his team's mix of new and legendary.

Best pick
Bear Bryant didn't call him "the best player I ever coached" for nothing. Dwight Stephenson was one of the greatest to ever lace it up for the Crimson Tide, whether it was under Bryant or any other coach in the school's history. Somehow I nabbed the All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame selection in the third round -- a steal, if you ask me. Not only did the 6-foot-2, 255-pound center win the 1978 and 1979 national titles at Alabama and get chosen to the NFL All-Pro team five times while with the Miami Dolphins, he was also a star off the field, winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1985.

T.J. Yeldon
Courtesy University of Alabama athleticsAfter only one season in Tuscaloosa, Alex saw enough to put T.J. Yeldon on his all-time Alabama team.

What player did you want to be certain to get?
Ozzie Newsome might not have drafted himself so high -- he is, after all, a shrewd general manager with the Baltimore Ravens -- but this time I was the one making the call, and I wanted arguably the greatest pass-catcher in Alabama history on my team. Twice Newsome was an All-SEC selection, and in 1977 he was an All-American under Bryant. He would amass 102 receptions, 2,070 yards and a whopping 20.3 yards per catch in his career at The Capstone; enough to be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Best sleeper pick?
Harry Gilmer did it all on the football field, playing quarterback, halfback and defensive back for the Crimson Tide in the 1940s. I selected him as a defensive back to play alongside the great John Mangum, and together they would have formed a lethal combination. Gilmer is all over the Alabama record books: second in career interceptions (16), second in career interception yards (234), second in punt return yards (1,119) and first in kickoff return average (28.7).

What player were you most disappointed to miss out on?
There were a bunch of players I had circled on my draft board that I missed out on -- Don Hutson, Julio Jones and John Hannah, to name a few -- but the one I was left kicking myself on was the No. 2 pick overall, Derrick Thomas. Somehow I had fooled myself into thinking he might fall to me in the third spot, but I should have known better. Thomas was the most disruptive defender in Alabama history. He holds the record for most sacks in a single season (27) and in a career (52). He was an All-American, a Dick Butkus Award winner and finished 10th in the Heisman voting in 1988. He blocked seven kicks, was a first-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list of accomplishments goes on and on, yet Thomas is shockingly still not a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. That organization had the choice of not selecting Thomas; I was simply unlucky in not landing the dominant defensive end.

Overall assessment
Drafting AJ McCarron with my first pick wasn't what anyone would call a traditional choice, but it was one I was prepared to make. Why? Because I wanted to take the long-range view on my all-time Alabama team, and with McCarron I saw a quarterback who has three national championships and is quickly rising up the record books. He might not be a top-three Alabama football player today, but would anyone be surprised if he were considered that highly a decade from now? I certainly wouldn't.

The rest of my draft went as planned. Nabbing the only Heisman Trophy winner in school history in the 13th round was a steal, I thought, and my secondary turned out well with a recent star in Mark Barron and some stars of years past in Tommy Wilcox, Harry Gilmer and John Mangum filling out the foursome. And overall, that was my thought process: mix in some old with the new. McCarron was a part of the new school, but others like Chance Warmack and C.J. Mosley had a place in my draft as well. After all, it was an all-time draft, and that meant both the past, present and future.

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