No college football team has churned out NFL talent the way Alabama has in recent years, and on Thursday night Alabama can set a new record for producing Top 10 draft picks.
If an Alabama player goes in the Top 10 on Thursday, it will be the sixth consecutive year that a Crimson Tide player has gone in the Top 10. Alabama’s current streak of five straight years with Top 10 picks is tied with USC (1993 to 1997) for the most by any college football program since the AFL and NFL merged their drafts in 1967.
But the streak could end on Thursday night: Alabama has three players who are widely viewed as first-round picks in safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, linebacker C.J. Mosley and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, but none of those three is a sure thing to go in the Top 10. Alabama’s Top 10 picks in the last five years have been Dee Milliner and Chance Warmack in 2013, Trent Richardson and Mark Barron in 2012, Marcell Dareus and Julio Jones in 2011, Rolando McClain in 2010 and Andre Smith in 2009.
For a reminder of just how good Nick Saban is at recruiting and developing talent, consider this: Saban became Alabama’s coach in 2007, and not a single player from the senior class he inherited was picked in the 2008 NFL draft. The 2008 NFL draft was also the eighth consecutive draft in which no Alabama players were selected in the first round. But since 2009, Alabama has had 33 players drafted, including 14 in the first round and eight in the Top 10.
Although no college team is in the same class as Saban’s Alabama program when it comes to producing NFL talent, Texas A&M and LSU have both produced Top 10 picks for three straight years. Texas A&M will almost certainly make it four in a row on Thursday, with Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews all potentially going in the Top 10. But LSU would need receiver Odell Beckham to go higher than most people think in order to keep its Top 10 streak going.
Since 2010, the first year that Alabama was sending a class of players who had been coached by Saban for their whole careers to the NFL, the Crimson Tide have had at least five players drafted each year. With quarterback AJ McCarron and defensive end Ed Stinson sure to join Clinton-Dix, Mosley and Kouandjio, this year Alabama will have at least five players drafted again. Pretty soon, Saban will have sent enough Alabama players to the NFL to assemble a full NFL team. A team that would probably be better than the real NFL team that Saban coached in Miami.