Nick Saban first-round success and lesser known NFL Draft facts

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Nick Saban is the GOAT and will officially achieve another No. 1 ranking on April 23, during the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Alabama football coach, Nick Saban will gain another ‘Greatest of All-Time’ distinction on Apr. 23. He will do it in absentia, during the digital and distanced version of the NFL Draft. He, every NFL team executive and to-be drafted college football players will all be absent from the normal television extravagance and party.

Last year, with three former Alabama football players chosen in the first round, Saban was reported to have set the record. Butch Davis may choose to quibble. The former Miami, North Carolina and now Florida International coach claims to have coached 36 NFL first-rounders.

Bruce Feldman credits Davis with 34 first-rounders and adds Davis did not recruit all of them. So maybe a more correct number for Davis is 34, qualified by an asterisk. On Apr. 23, the Davis number will not matter as much. Nick Saban will expand his extraordinary run of first-round picks to at least 38 and perhaps 40.

When Saban’s count reached 34 last year, it was widely reported he had set a new first-round record. Davis was incorrectly ignored. Saban did pass other coaching legends. Joe Paterno in his forty-plus seasons as a head coach had 33 first-rounders. During Bobby Bowden’s long run, 32 of his players became first-round picks.

The legend of Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant is he built championship teams from scrawny, boys from the state of Alabama. He did some of that, but Bryant also recruited great athletes to Tuscaloosa. In his head coaching career, 18 of his former players were first-round picks.

The Nick Saban record of 34, includes 29 former Alabama Crimson Tide players. Saban also had first-rounders at LSU (2) and Michigan State (3).

Lesser-Known NFL Draft Facts

  • One Alabama football and professional great was not drafted. Don Hutson became a professional in 1935, one year before the first NFL Draft.
  • Hutson signed two contracts with two teams. He went to Green Bay over the Brooklyn Dodgers because the Packers had an earlier date on the post-marked contract. Hutson’s $300 per game pay was then considered huge money.
  • In the first NFL Draft (1936) nine teams chose players in nine rounds.
  • According to Chris Landry, there was initially no time limit on picks. That did not change until the NFL and AFL merged.
  • By 1939 the NFL was up to 10 teams and the Draft was 20 rounds.
  • The first draft after the NFL-AFL merger was in 1967. It was 17 rounds.
  • 382 former Alabama football players have been drafted. Check out the complete list.
  • The Alabama Crimson Tide has 16, top-five NFL Draft selections in its history.
  • The 1948 NFL Draft was 32 rounds.
  • In the 1948 Draft, three former Crimson Tide players were selected in the top-five. Harry Gilmer was the No. 1 selection. Gilmer was joined by teammates, Lowell Tew (No. 4) and Vaughn Mancha (No. 5).

Next. Greatest 3-Star Players in Crimson Tide History. dark

Crimson Tide great, Joe Namath was not a top pick in the NFL Draft. Due to concerns over his knee problems, Namath was drafted No. 12 by the NFL. He was the No.1 pick in the AFL Draft.