Alabama Football: Tide Reaching New Level of Success in NFL Draft

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Alabama Football: Tide Reaching New Level of Success in NFL Draft
Al Bello/Getty Images

It's funny how this works. The elite college players leave school early to enter the NFL draft. The elite high school kids see this and want to play for the coach that places the most athletes in the NFL.

This is kind of how it happens at Alabama these days.

With three BCS titles in four years and listed among the favorites to win another this fall, Alabama coach Nick Saban seems to be dominating college football in every way.

He has arguably the best facilities at the school with the richest history. He uses what may be the best coaching staff to bring in the best recruiting classes. He wins games with remarkable consistency and finishes seasons with trophies and championship rings.

The 78th annual NFL draft is now less than two weeks away, and the Alabama Crimson Tide are once again expected to be well represented.

This has not always been the case, though.

From 1936 to 2009, Alabama had just 51 players selected in either the first or second rounds of the NFL draft. This seems quite low for a program with the tradition of excellence that Alabama has put together.

Overall, there have only been 41 first-round picks selected out of Alabama in 78 years. While that just doesn't sound right, it is.

Saban and the current generation of Alabama football players are changing that, though, and they are doing so in a hurry.

In the past three years, Alabama has had 19 players selected in the top two rounds, 10 of them in the first. The next best three-year mark for the Tide was from 1993-1995 when Alabama placed 17 in the top two rounds. 

In the upcoming 2013 draft, as many as five Tide players could possibly be picked in the opening round (Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Eddie Lacy and Jesse Williams).

This would mean that Alabama's 2010 team, the one that did NOT win the BCS title, could have had as many as 15 first-round picks on its roster. To put it simply, that is just flat-out insane.

Prior to the past three draft classes, Alabama only had 13 players chosen in the top two rounds from 1995-2009 (less than one per year). But those guys weren't recruited by Saban.

Looking at the current roster and the significant amount of talent that the Tide are both carrying and bringing in, there is no reason to believe this trend is going to end in the near future.

Every year, Saban seems to bring in even bigger and better athletes than he did the year before. Every first-rounder has his roster slot filled by another. Every irreplaceable player that leaves early is  immediately replaced by someone of equal or greater pedigree.

This takes us back to the original point.

The NFL knows where the best, most-prepared and best-coached talent is, and teams are swooping down on that talent like starving vultures.

Alabama players are taking advantage of their program's well-earned respect and cashing in on it, as they should.

Meanwhile, Saban and his recruiting machine have to do little more than tabulate the facts. When Saban is recruiting a kid that expresses his desire to eventually play on Sundays, the master recruiter breaks out the books and reads off the list of those who have made it there under his watch.

It's the best recruiting tool of all.

And while the rest of the college football fanbases are sweating it when they lose a star player early, the Alabama crowd calmly turns to the recruiting services to eagerly await the arrival of the next first-rounder.

Winning is pretty much a year-round thing at Alabama these days. The football team is winning on the field from September through January. The coaching staff is winning in February via recruiting. The players are winning in April by way of the draft.

There are only four months out of the year where college football lies dormant. It is only during these times that Alabama is not winning. But they aren't losing, either.

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