The 6-4, 330-pound mammoth would have filled a major need for a run-stuffing nose tackle.
That's why Saban had discussions with Cleveland GM Phil Savage about what it would take to move from 16th in the draft to 12th to get Ngata, who eventually went to Baltimore at that 12th spot after the Ravens worked out a trade with the Browns.
"We discussed what it would take to get the big nose guard if that's a possibility," Saban said.
When asked whether the "big nose guard" meant Ngata or Florida State's Brodrick Bunkley, who was drafted 14th overall by Philadelphia, Saban said he liked both player but that Ngata was the one he was targeting.
Saban had explained earlier in the day that even though he was happy to land Jason Allen with the 16th overall pick, the first preference would have been to land a top-notch front seven player.
"If we would have picked, based on priority, we were hoping that a front-seven player that was in this caliber of players for us would be available," Saban said. "If you're going to put my feet to the fire, I would personally always pick big people, always big people.
"There's fewer of them, defensive linemen, those types of people. ... So if you ask me if we had last year's second pick, no disrespect to Ronnie Brown, but if we could have picked a defensive end that could get 15 sacks a year, I'd say that's a better priority. No disrespect, we took the best player available to us at that time and we did the same thing this year. No disrespect to any other player, any other position, but it was not done based on need."
Saban said the cost of moving up to Cleveland's pick simply was too high, especially given the Dolphins' lack of picks.
And while he expressed satisfaction about his first-day picks, it's now clear that a perfect day for Saban would have included Haloti Ngata becoming a member of the Dolphins.