Chris Owens came to Alabama listed as an offensive guard. Fast forward several years later, and he'll leave the program with experience at just about every position on the offensive line.
Over the course of his Crimson Tide career, Owens started a plethora of games at center and right tackle. Owens' versatility allowed Nick Saban to get creative with the way he shuffled around his offensive line.
Now that his time at Alabama is officially in the books, Owens is ready to take that next step in his career. He has been spending the past few months rigorously working so he's prepared to make an NFL roster this year.
We caught up with Chris Owens to discuss his career at Alabama, what he learned from Nick Saban, his preparation for the NFL and much more.
The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?
Chris Owens: So far, it’s been pretty good. I’m doing the 40-yard dash. I’ve been working withJeromey Clary. He played for the Chargers for a while. We’re watching a lot of film, doing a lot of o-line skill work. We’re getting in a good mixture of work - on and off the field.
The Spun: What have you learned so far in this process?
CO: I think, initially, you just want to figure out how you can learn technique the best you can. As the process goes along, you figure out what alignments you should have. I think the focus is on being a sponge so you can have a good idea of what to expect at the next level.
The Spun: What’s your favorite memory from your time at Alabama?
CO: Honestly, above any national championship or SEC championship we won is our win at Jordan-Hare Stadium because I never got one before this season. As we’re doing this interview, I’m wearing a hoodie with us doing the Crimson Crane with the score on the back. That’ll live with me for years. I’ve taken three trips to that stadium, and every time I’ve been there we had to witness the Auburn fans storm the field. And honestly, I hate those guys. So being able to go into Auburn and get a victory is the best memory I could’ve asked for.
The Spun:I’ve seen you troll Auburn fans before. How much pride do you guys take in winning those type of games?
CO: Winning at that stadium was unbelievable. It took me six years to get there. You want to win any rivalry game. You don’t want to hear about how they beat you for 364 days. My favorite part about this rivalry is that it carries over to other sports. We know that on the field the two schools don’t like each other, but off the field there’s respect. But giving your fan base bragging rights for a full year is something special.
The Spun:This season didn’t end the way you guys wanted it to, but what do you think you showed on tape?
CO: I would definitely say my versatility. Starting a full season at right tackle is impressive since I was recruited to Alabama as an offensive guard. I’ve always been moving around on the line. I also showed a lot of improvement throughout the year, especially with my stance and sets. I took a lot of the lessons that Doug Marrone taught us and used it to help my game. I was able to fix my base and punch a little earlier, things like that. I went up against really fast edge rushers during my time in the SEC. Being able to swing from the interior to the outside and handle those speed rushers should help out my stock.
The Spun: What did you learn from Doug Marrone during your time with him?
CO: Learning from Coach Marrone was a different experience. I’ve had NFL-caliber coaches at Alabama before, but having a coach who just came off a head coaching job was different. He understood how we worked. Just learning from his experiences from his time with the Saints or Syracuse, it was helpful. He always found a way to figure out what the problem is and fix it quickly. There was never a lull where we spent weeks to correct it. He’d have the answer pretty much immediately, and it was up to us to apply it. If we applied it, we saw results. It was a treat learning from him. I think I made the right decision coming back and trusting him with my final season.
The Spun: I’ve noticed you’re a fan of Wordle. With that said, what would be one word to describe Nick Saban?
CO: I would say driven. Driven in the sense that he’s driven to perfection. Even if you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to do, he’ll notice if you took the right path to get there. He’s concerned with going through the right motions and getting the right results, not just getting the right results. He’s driven to constantly improve. You’ve seen that with the offensive coordinators he’s hired and the way his philosophies have changed. He understands that maybe we can’t stop as many teams as we used to in college football. He always says ‘It’s hard to stop people from scoring in today’s football with all the rules we have.’ So you need to evolve your offense to score more points. He’s never satisfied, and I believe he’ll continue to be driven.
The Spun: What’s the loudest stadium you ever played in?
CO: Well, I’ll start by saying I’ve been to a couple of NFL stadiums. I know the Saints can compete with some SEC schools because that stadium is rocking. But I’d say Texas A&M at night has to be the loudest experience. Also, playing at Baton Rouge at night is really loud. An underrated one is Mississippi State when those cowbells are ringing. But I’d definitely go with Texas A&M.
The Spun: Which offensive linemen do you watch?
CO: One week I’ll watch Ryan Jensen or Jason Kelce because I know I have to play center. Other times, I’ll watch Quenton Nelson or Zack Martin because I have to move to guard. I’ve watched some offensive tackles, but it’s hard to take a lot from them because most of them are 6-foot-5 or taller. I’m 6-foot-3. So they could get away with some things I can’t. But I would definitely say Quenton Nelson and Ryan Jensen are my favorite offensive linemen to watch.
The Spun: What’s one part of your game you’re working really hard on?
CO: I would say run blocking from the center position. It’s weird because you’re stepping from a parallel stance. I don’t feel like I’m terrible at it, obviously. But I feel like if I can get better at that part of my game, I can take my entire game to a whole new level.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Chris Owens?
CO: You’re getting a guy that’s ready to step in and be a sponge. I’m not too prideful to ask questions, regardless if there’s a guy ahead of me or behind me. I’m willing to come in and work, embrace the environment, and help the team win at all costs. I’m willing to play any position on the offensive line.
Owens will have the chance to boost his draft stock at his pro day later this year.
NFL coaches will certainly love Owens' leadership skills, willingness to learn and versatility.
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