Alabama has built an NFL draft-pick machine. The Crimson Tide have produced so many NFL players lately that draft picks have become as much a symbol of the program as its national championships.

That is, except for one position -- quarterback. Alabama has struck out lately at the most valuable NFL position.

The university that produced Bart Starr, Joe Namath and Ken Stabler has gone 38 years without a first-round pick at quarterback. Arkansas, Mississippi State and South Carolina are the only other SEC teams without a first-round quarterback since 1977.

Richard Todd in 1976 was the Crimson Tide's last quarterback to be picked in the opening round. AJ McCarron is widely projected to be drafted in the second or third round this week.

Of course, if McCarron goes after the first round, that won't prevent him from having a successful NFL career. But if he succeeds, he would be the exception rather than the norm among Alabama quarterbacks. Alabama quarterbacks who have been drafted since 1977 have started only 21 NFL games:

Greg McElroy (2011 draft): one start.
Brodie Croyle (2006): 10 starts.
Jay Barker (1995): zero starts.
Mike Shula (1987): zero starts.
Jeff Rutledge (1979): 10 starts.

Alabama's 21 combined NFL starts by drafted quarterbacks ranks as the 11th-lowest among the 65 power-conference schools. Schools with fewer starts: Arkansas, Minnesota, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Wake Forest (none each); Georgia Tech (one); Northwestern and Kansas (two each); Rutgers (14); and Arizona (16).

“I just think the game evolved so much, and I'm not sure from an offensive standpoint that Alabama evolved with it as quickly as others did,” said Barker, a fifth-round pick in 1995 who won a national title with Alabama in 1992. “You were kind of taught this was the way you do things. We'll win games with defense and manage things and not make mistakes.”