Alabama football coach, Nick Saban is arguably CFB’s greatest coach. Not in dispute is Saban’s success in identifying and developing NFL first-rounders.
Not in dispute meaning what Nick Saban unquestionably does better than any other college football coach – ever. Saban identifies top recruits and develops NFL first-round football players with more success than any coach in college football history.
The number of Nick Saban players to be drafted as first-rounders by the NFL is 34. Five of those players came from Nick Saban programs at Michigan State and LSU. A whopping 29 have come out of Saban’s Alabama football factory in Tuscaloosa. And the end is not in sight.
Conservatively, four, five, maybe even six former Alabama football players will be first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Mock Drafts over the last month have listed as many seven former Crimson Tide players who could be drafted in this April’s first round.
Check out all 29 former Nick Saban, Crimson Tide first-rounders
2009 – Andre Smith
2010 – Kareem Jackson, Rolando McClain
2011 – James Carpenter, Marcel Dareus, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones
2012 – Mark Barron, Donta Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson
2013 – D. J. Fluker, Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack
2014 – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, C.J. Mosley
2015 – Amari Cooper
2016 – Ryan Kelly
2017 – Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, O.J. Howard, Marlon Humphrey
2018 – Rashaan Evans, Minkah Fitzpatrick, DaRon Payne, Calvin Ridley
2019 – Josh Jacobs, Jonah Williams, Quinnen Williams
Three first-rounders came out of Saban’s Michigan State program from 1999-2000: Dimitrius Underwood, Julian Peterson and Plaxico Burress. In 2004 and 2005, Saban had two LSU first-rounders, Michael Clayton and Marcus Spears.
Why has Saban had so much success developing NFL first-rounders? A big reason is attracting a big chunk of the top talent to Tuscaloosa, season after season. Another reason is Saban’s NFL experience. NFL Head Coaches and General Managers have a higher than normal comfort level with the type of player and person coming through a Saban program. The coaches also know Nick’s players will not have as steep a learning curve when making the jump to the NFL.
All of those reasons have allowed Saban to do what no other college football coach has ever achieved. Only four coaches in college football history have had as many as 27 NFL first-rounders. The others are Woody Hayes (27), Bobby Bowden (32) and Joe Paterno (33).
For those wondering, Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant had 18 NFL first-rounders. Also, Bryant, Paterno and Bowden had much longer careers as college football head coaches than Saban.