Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a ton of players get drafted to the NFL. He’s very familiar with the process, and he thinks there are ways it can be improved for younger players.
Saban told MMQB’s Emily Kaplan that underclassmen often make the wrong choice when deciding to declare for the NFL draft because they’re given bad information. Players declare early, Saban said, and then their stock usually drops once teams begin to really evaluate them.
The Crimson Tide coach has a solution: allow players to start being evaluated earlier, before they are even able to declare.
“So I recommend that instead of waiting until December for guys to submit grades, why don’t we do it in the spring before the season?” Saban said. “When your seniors work out and get measurements, they can actually test the younger guys and give them all the tests, the Wonderlic and all the stuff they do at the combine, so that they have the information. Then they can evaluate that guy through the season just as they do the seniors.”
The result would be that when players ask for a draft grade to determine if they should declare, Saban said they would be getting a “more accurate assessment.” That would lower the risk of their draft stock suddenly plummeting when teams start to look at them more closely.
“What (players) don’t understand is, once you enter the draft, everyone is looking for reasons not to draft you,” Saban said
If an underclassmen got a good grade, he could declare early with more assurance that his stock won’t alter dramatically. If he got a bad grade, he might have more reason to stay in college and try to improve his rating.
Alabama had just two players declare early for the 2016 NFL Draft: RB Derrick Henry and DT A’Shawn Robinson. Both were selected in the second round.
Saban said he’s talked to coaches at other programs that deal with this issue often, like Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. He said he thinks they were all in agreement, and that they’ve talked to NFL’s competition committee about it.
“Whether this gets implemented next year or not, I don’t know,” he said, “but I haven’t seen a lot of resistance from either side.”