Saban's draft philosophy

Nick Saban's draft strategy isn't terribly complicated. He's not locked into selecting the best player available or focusing on filling a need, but rather his philosophy is to draft the player that represents the best value for the Dolphins, whether the guy ever even plays in Miami.

In short, if a player Saban is very high on winds up slipping and ends up available when the Dolphins are on the clock, he's liable to draft that guy even if there's no need at that position. The thinking is that maybe that guy will bring a better return in a future trade than any player who could have been picked at that spot.

"Philosophically, I think everybody just needs to understand that we'll try to do whatever is best and brings the most value to our team," Saban said. "That's whether you go up, you go down, you pick, who you pick."

Saban explained that he ranks every player on a 0-9 scale, with most players falling somewhere between 4.0 and 8.0.

The players are graded overall and by position (horizontally and vertically, as Saban put it). If the highest-rated player is at a position of need, then the selection is obvious. If not, then it might depend on the difference between the top-ranked and those ranked highest at positions of need.

Saban also explained how the Dolphins go about assigning a grade to a player.

"Everybody who looks at a player grades the player," Saban said. "Then through the culmination of all that information, reading everyone's assessment, everybody writes a report taking all the things into consideration."

In case you're wondering, Saban declined to divulge the grade the Dolphins had on Ronnie Brown last year, although Saban said he "was the highest guy, I can tell you, that we picked."

Among the factors that come into play on the Dolphins' grade, according to Saban, are physical ability to play his position, size and speed to play his position, and his character and attitude as a competitor, as well as a person.

Players also will be assigned letters which indicate a specific characteristic, such as an "S" for lack of speed, a "Z" for lack of size or a "U" for an underachiever.

There's a lot of research that goes into the process, but once that work is done, the draft itself is a rather simple process.

"Basically you're hopeful the player you have an opportunity to pick will offer the best value to the organization as well as be an impact guy at a place of need," Saban said. "But I think, especially when you're picking early, that bringing the guy that has the best value long term will be most beneficial to the organization. I think it minimizes risk to some degree.

"I don't think reaching in the draft to take guys sooner than they should be taken -- even though it may solve a need short term -- it may actually not be the best thing long term. And when you create value, maybe you create more opportunities for yourself somewhere down the road to actually end up solving more needs. Does that make sense?

"We are hopeful that the best player available will add value to our team as well as solve a need. That may or may not be the case."


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