Nick Saban is cautioning underclassmen who leave school early to enter the NFL draft.
Thehead coach and five-time national title winner believes only top prospects should consider leaving school early to pursue the NFL.
“Now we have guys that have no draft grades, seventh-round grades, free-agent grades, fifth-round grades that are going out of the draft. And the person that loses in that is the player,” Saban said on Saturday after his team’s spring game, according to.
“If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year – I’m not going to say any names – goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not great. He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more.”
Four players from Saban’s program were selected in the first round of last year’s draft. Three of them were underclassmen, but they each signed contracts worth $10-16 million.
Safety Ronnie Harrison was the only Alabama player drafted in the third round in 2018. He left school following his junior season and signed a four-year, $3-million NFL contract. Harrison then started eight games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year.
“So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they’ve got a guy that’s going to play for that kind of money for three more years, all right?” Saban added.
The coach said the growing trend of underclassmen leaving is altering his approach to recruiting. He now tells recruits to prepare for life after football.
“I am 100 percent NFL. I’m 100 percent guys having careers, all right? But people have to be smart about the business decisions they make relative to the NFL because it is all business,” Saban said.
The 2019 NFL Draft begins on April 25. Up to four Alabama underclassmen could be selected in the first round from a group that includes Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams, Deionte Thompson, Josh Jacobs, Irv Smith Jr., Mack Wilson, and Saivion Smith.
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