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Crimson Tide Pipeline to the NFL Still Flowing Freely

Nick Saban walked away from the National Football League over a decade ago to become the head coach at the University of Alabama. He was just another in a long line of successful collegiate coaches to flounder at the next level. Many in the Dolphins community still hate him, and he’s still the butt of jokes all over the country. But just to show the league that there was no hard feelings, he’s been sending copious amounts of talent to the NFL ever since.

Since taking over in Tuscaloosa, Saban has developed a reputation for getting guys prepared for the next level. This is most apparent when looking at the astounding 55 draft picks from Alabama since 2009, including the otherworldly 18 first-round picks. That’s 10 more total selections and 8 more first rounders than the next closest program (Florida).

An Endless Cycle

There’s no guarantee that 4- and 5-star high school recruits are going to develop into NFL talent while in college. It’s got a lot to do with coaching, development and the player’s drive; something Nick Saban and the Alabama faithful refer to as “The Process.” Thus far, that process is working like a finely tuned machine with Tuscaloosa acting as an NFL pipeline.

As Saban and his staff continue to recruit top-ranking recruiting classes, the program continues to develop them, the team wins championships, and the school becomes a more desirable landing spot for top recruits. It’s a vicious cycle, but one Saban has perfected. As long as he remains in Tuscaloosa, NFL scouts will continue to kick the tires on all of the players leaving the program.

This Year’s Prospects

Alabama boasts a plethora of talent again in the 2017 Draft Class with as many as six potential first-round draft picks. And even after that top tier talent, the Crimson Tide has a handful of other players who will be drafted in later rounds. It’s a safe bet that at least 10 Bama players will hear their name called at some point during the draft. Let’s take a look at the athletes.

Tier One:

These are the sure-fire first rounders. In almost every mock draft you look at, these guys are included somewhere.

Jonathan Allen

Almost a guarantee to be the first one off the board from Bama, Allen put together a monstrous career in college. He left the school with more career sacks (28) than anyone to play there not named Derrick Thomas. Led all interior defensive lineman with 67 pressures last season according to Pro Football Focus.

Reuben Foster

Tennessee v Alabama

Character concerns aside, Foster can ball. The clear cut best inside linebacker available, he has a nose for the football and could become a Pro Bowler sooner rather than later. He drew comparisons to Bobby Wagner on NFL.com‘s draft analysis page. Finished his senior season as the team leader with 115 tackle’s.

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