Alabama head coach Nick Saban has benefitted a lot from players who use his school as a springboard to professional careers, but he thinks some of them are opting to enter the NFL too early.
Saban said on Saturday that “a significant amount” of players from Alabama and other schools “are not making good business decisions” when it comes to going pro. He said players who wind up as mid- or late-round picks should remain in school in order to go earlier in the next year’s draft.
“When people make emotional decisions, they’re going to have to suffer some really difficult consequences for themselves in the future,” Saban said, via ESPN.com. “Because you don’t have to go out for the draft early. You can come back and play. We’ve had six or seven guys here that had second- or third-round grades that became top-15 and first-round draft picks and made a significant amount of money doing that, so there’s some really good examples of guys that did it that way.”
Saban noted an unnamed player who left Alabama last year and became a starting safety after going in the third round, which Saban says “is not that great” from a financial perspective. Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison is the only one who fits that description and, as Saban notes, he’s locked into his deal for two more years regardless of how well he plays.
What Saban doesn’t note is that third-round money is a lot more than Harrison and other college players are permitted to make by the NCAA. If he and other players were able to profit off their name and likeness, perhaps there would be more willingness to remain in college despite the risk of injury that would threaten to make them an even lower pick if they stayed for another year.
Both arguments have validity, although the growing number of underclassmen in the draft — 106 last year, 103 this year — suggest the ones for staying in school could use some help.