All of Nick Saban’s Top Five Draft Picks At Alabama
Nick Saban has produced an astonishing 41 first-round draft picks since coming to the Capstone in 2007. This number is expected to grow with the 2023 NFL Draft coming up on Thursday. Out of the 41 players, here are the five who heard their names called in the top five of their respective drafts:
Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle
The Buffalo Bills picked Dareus third overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He played for three years at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide clinch its first national championship of the Saban era and winning awards during his college career like First-Team All-SEC (2010) and BCS National Championship Defensive MVP (2010).
In the NFL, he played for the Bills for seven seasons and then for the Jacksonville Jaguars for three seasons, but he has not played in the league since 2019. During his time with Buffalo, he was a two-time Pro Bowler (2013, 2014) and was named First-Team All-Pro (2014). In his professional career, he accumulated 365 total tackles, 37.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Trent Richardson, Running Back
Richardson was Saban's second straight third overall pick after he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft. While Richardson played at Alabama for three years, he was not the starting running back until his final season. He ran for over 100 yards in nine games, including six consecutive games, as well as scored multiple touchdowns in seven games. He won numerous awards during his college career, including two-time First-Team All-SEC bids (2010, 2011), SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2011), and a Doak Walker Award winner (2011). He also won two BCS National Championships (2009, 2011).
Richardson officially played in the NFL for five years, however he was released before the season even started during his final two years in the league by the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens respectively. In his career, he totaled 2,032 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns as well as 912 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver
Being drafted fourth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Raiders, Cooper was the Tide's only first round draft pick that year. Cooper played three years at Alabama and became the school's all-time leader in receptions (228), receiving yards (3,463) and receiving touchdowns (31). Along with winning a BCS National Championship in 2012, Cooper also won SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2014), the Fred Biletnikoff Award (2014) and was named a Unanimous All-American (2014).
In the pros, Cooper played his first three seasons with the Raiders before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys during the 2018 season, where he stayed at for three full seasons before being traded to the Browns, which is where he currently plays. In his career so far he has 8,236 receiving yards and 55 receiving touchdowns. He has been named to the Pro Bowl four times (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019).
Quinnen Williams, Defensive Tackle
Williams became Saban's second defensive tackle at Alabama drafted in the top three when he was picked third overall by the New York Jets in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams was with the Crimson Tide for three seasons although he was redshirted his freshman year. Still, his play over the latter two seasons was enough to earn him awards like the Outland Trophy (2018) and the Bill Willis Trophy (2018). Williams was also named a Unanimous All-American (2018) and won a CFP National Championship in 2017.
Williams has only been with the Jets since entering the NFL, where he has put up 191 total tackles, 27.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He had his best season in the pros last year, which earned him a Pro Bowl bid and got him named to the First-Team All-Pro.
Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback
Tagovailoa is Saban's only quarterback to go in the top 5 of any draft so far and was picked fifth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Most notably known at Alabama for his heroics in winning the 2017 CFP National Championship game as a freshman, he, like all of Saban's other top five draft picks, only played with the Tide for three years. He won the majority of his collegiate awards his sophomore year, which included the Maxwell Award (2018) and the Walter Camp Award (2018). He was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2018).
In his three seasons with Miami, Tagovailoa has passed for 8,015 yards, 52 touchdowns and thrown 23 interceptions. He had his best season in the NFL last year, resulting in his team getting to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Even though he didn't play during the playoff clinching game or the playoff game due to injury, he had the best passer rating in the league last season (105.5).
This list is very likely to grow soon as Bryce Young and Will Anderson are both seen as top 5 prospects in the upcoming draft by most analysts. However, they hope to do something that no other player on this list has done before: become Saban's first-ever No. 1 overall draft pick.
The NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 27, at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network. Due to a trade with the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers have the first overall pick.
Crimson Tide's NFL Draft First-Rounders During Saban's Tenure