Ranking the 10 Best Alabama football NFL draft picks of the Nick Saban era

Nick Saban has produced 44 first-round NFL draft picks over his tenure at Alabama and will add a few more this April, but who were the best draft picks that Saban sent into the league?
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) / Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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Nick Saban’s illustrious tenure came to an end this winter and since 2007, Tuscaloosa Alabama wasn’t just a championship factory, it was an NFL factory as well. Saban’s final Alabama draft class will enter the league this spring and players like Dallas Turner and Terrion Arnold will dominate the league for years to come. 

Former Alabama players have been littered across the NFL for years, many of them first-round picks, because it’s hard to go unnoticed when you’re playing in the final game of the college football season every year. While the Crimson Tide don’t slip into the later rounds, teams still get plenty of value when drafting an Alabama star, but these 10 players provided the best return. 

This ranking isn’t the best careers of Alabama players, it's the best career for the spot that they were selected. So, we’ll start at the end of the first round with a wide receiver who changed teams each of the past two offseasons. 

44. Calvin Ridley. Calvin Ridley, WR. 10. . . 2018. Round: 1 Pick: 26. player. Calvin Ridley, WR

Calvin Ridley has had an interesting past two years in the NFL. He was suspended for gambling in 2022, and then was traded to the Jaguars for 2023 and struggled to get his footing with a new team. Now, Ridley is with the Tennessee Titans, looking for a fresh start. 

Through Ridley’s first two years, he was still the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta, behind Julio Jones, and posted back-to-back 800-yard seasons. For a receiver selected in the backend of the first round, he seemed like a steal. Then, in Year 3, Ridley exploded for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Despite his difficulties since that outstanding 2020 campaign, Ridley is still one of the better receivers in the NFL.