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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2012. . . Dont'a Hightower, LB. player. Dont'a Hightower. Round: 1 Pick: 25. Dont'a Hightower, LB. 8. 47

Nick Saban and Bill Belichick know each other a little bit, so it was never a surprise when the Patriots would be interested in an Alabama player. Dont’a Hightower might be the best example of those two head coaches collaborating to get the most out of a player’s career. 

While at Alabama, Hightower won two national titles with Saban in 2009 and 2011. Then, in the NFL Hightower become one of Belichick’s favorite players, staying with the Patriots for his entire career from 2012 to 2021. Over his nine years in the league (opted out 2020 during the pandemic), he was a Pro Bowler twice and was named second-team All-Pro in 2016. 

Hightower was a valuable piece for the Patriots dynasty and finished his career with three Super Bowl rings. The Patriots were constantly picking at the back of the first round during the Belichick-Brady years, so hitting on players like Hightower was crucial.