With three former Alabama players being selected in the first round (and nine overall selections) in the 2013 NFL draft, Nick Saban’s influence as a football mind is growing with every passing moment.
Former Saban assistants such as Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Will Muschamp (Florida) and Derek Dooley (Tennessee) combined for another six selections in the first round. With more than a quarter of the first-round selections having been mentored in a system based on Saban’s principles, the final step of Saban’s famed process is extending well beyond Tuscaloosa’s city limits.
But even with the success of members of his coaching tree, no team in the country can match the rapid rate at which Saban and the Crimson Tide program are cranking out first-round picks.
As Jon Solomon of AL.com points out, only Miami (2000-04) has produced more first-rounders in a five-year period than the 14 such picks Alabama has since the 2009 draft.
Obviously, the ability to consistently lure talented players is a big part of Saban’s equation. The best evidence of this is found by taking a glance at any of Alabama’s recruiting classes since 2008.
If the Tide’s 2013 class—which had 14 of the nation’s top 100 players, according to 247 Sports—is any indicator, NFL scouts may as well invest in some real estate along University Boulevard.
But as ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt recently pointed out on Twitter, Saban has been able to stockpile his share of NFL talent in college in a way that he or no other NFL coach could possibly do.
Seeing why Nick Saban would not go to the NFL, would only get one #1 pick there.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) April 26, 2013
However, the biggest factor in Alabama’s NFL assembly line is how Saban gets talented players to buy into his system.
Saban’s track record of developing players is a big reason why players like cornerback Dee Milliner (a first-round selection of the New York Jets) and running back Eddie Lacy (a second-round selection of the Green Bay Packers) would choose to wait in line at the Capstone behind players that would eventually become first-round picks.
His experience coaching in the NFL has shaped the way he’s built the programs at various stops in his career. He even commonly refers to his club as an organization, with a nod to the pro-style culture that permeates the locker room he presides over.
From an NFL perspective, the fact that Saban’s players have been groomed in that type of environment has to figure into part of the attraction to them in the draft process.
The beauty of the process is that it never ends. Saban’s demand for accountability and continued development is relentless.
So while Tide fans have been able to enjoy the fruits of Saban’s empire, the latest NFL draft is proof that GMs across the league are the latest to benefit from the process.