Nick Saban weighs in on players lost to the NFL and satellite camps

Nick Saban weighs in on players lost to the NFL and satellite camps
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. (Kent Gidley/UA Athletics)

Nick Saban talked about players who have left the Alabama football program and the vehicle through which some may come in when he spoke Thursday during the Southeastern Conference football spring teleconference.

The former Crimson Tiders are those taken in the National Football League Draft. The potential Alabama players are those who will attend camps in which Alabama coaches are involved.

The coach was asked if it was difficult watching only center Ryan Kelly be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Particular attention was given to defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, a junior who opted to forego his final year of eligibility after a projection he would be taken in the first round.

Robinson was projected to be a mid- to late first-round selection. He was taken in the second round, like junior running back Derrick Henry, the Heisman Trophy winner who was projected to go in the second round.

Saban said he was excited for the 15 former Alabama players who have a chance to make an NFL team – the seven who were drafted in the first three rounds and the eight who signed free agent contracts. He said juniors who declared for the draft made good decisions based on the available information.

The coach said evaluations can be incomplete and media draft projections are largely speculation with little to no input from NFL teams. He added that there was a lot of competition among defensive linemen.

“I think they’re all going to have great careers and I think that’s what those players should focus on, not where they got drafted,” Saban said. “I think being a second-round draft pick is a great opportunity. Some guys may be disappointed about that but there are only 40 guys in the country that got picked before you.

“I’d have loved to see some of our other guys get an opportunity to be first-round draft picks,” he continued. “But I really do think they need to focus on the opportunity that they have now.”

Saban was also asked about Alabama’s plan for satellite camps, which were recently brought back by the NCAA. A promotion for Samford University’s Mega Prospect Camp on June 11 says Alabama coaches will be involved.

The coach said Alabama will participate in satellite camps on a limited basis and Alabama isn’t allowed to promote its participation in some of those events. He added that Alabama’s focus will continue to be on its own, on-campus camps.

“Our camps here have always been about player development and doing a good job of teaching,” Saban said. “I have a great staff here. I think they’ve been beneficial and we’ve had a great response to our camps here. Also, any player that’s interested in coming to school here has a chance to see what the University of Alabama has to offer. We’re going to continue to focus on trying to get kids to come to the University of Alabama’s camp.”

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