Alabama begins spring football practice Friday, and the attention will be on that part of the process in developing the 2016 Crimson Tide team. But on Wednesday, Bama Coach Nick Saban was visiting with professional scouts and coaches and watching some of his recently-departed players from the 2015 national championship team go through their paces in preparation for the upcoming NFL draft.
Saban spent part of the time with one of the NFL head coaches in attendance, his good friend Bill Belichick. Was Saban selling the New England Patriots head coach on his players?
“I only talk to anybody who asks me about our players,” Saban said. “If you ask me about our players, I’ll give you an opinion. And I tell our players, I’m going to be loyal to you, but loyalty stops with lying. So I’m going to tell them the truth. So if you want me to give you a good recommendation, that means you have to do the right things while you are here. And you can do the same for me. If I don’t do a good job for you, then you don’t have to lie for me. Be loyal, but you don’t have to lie. And I don’t have to lie about any of these guys, because I truly like each and every one of these guys and think they have a lot of potential to be a contributor to a team somewhere.”
The Tide coach expressed pleasure in the large turnout of scouts and others from the 32 NFL teams. In addition to Belichick, Baltimore Head Coach Chuck Pagano was seen. General managers on hand were Doug Whaley of the Buffalo Bills and Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts. Also attending was former Alabama star John Mitchell, the longtime defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Saban said, “This is a goal that a lot of our players have, that they would like to have the opportunity to play at the next level some day. I know they have worked hard, they’ve done a great job for us, and we certainly want to do the best job we can to help them fill some of those goals and aspirations after they did a fantastic job here at Alabama.”
The day began at 11 a.m. (CT) with heights, weights and measurements in the weight room. The players then followed with vertical and broad jumps, along with bench press for those who chose to participate in the particular tests. The Crimson Tide athletes then moved to the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility to test in the 40-yard dash, agility drills and position-specific drills for each respective player.
The 2016 NFL Draft will run from April 28 until April 30 and will take place at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Ill.
Draft-eligible players that participated in the day’s events included: Jake Coker, Denzel Devall, Kenyan Drake (weigh-in only), Ty Flournoy-Smith, Derrick Henry, Dominick Jackson, Cyrus Jones, Darren Lake, Dillon Lee, Geno Matias-Smith, Richard Mullaney, Michael Nysewander, D.J. Pettway, Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, Bradley Sylve and Jabriel Washington. Only nine players ran the 40-yard dash, only one of them – defensive lineman D.J. Pettway – who had participated in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.