Saban wants changes in system for drafting underclassmen

Anniston StarMay 16, 2014 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With 36 of the 98 underclassmen who declared for the NFL Draft not selected, Alabama coach Nick Saban wants to see some changes made to the system.

The record number of underclassmen produced 16 first round selections, but many others saw the draft pass without having their name called.

"I think the misinformation that's out there that's being used to entice these guys to go out for the draft is what needs to get fixed," Saban said Thursday during his Crimson Caravan stop. "And I think the NFL and the NFL Players Association needs to help us in college so that we can all get together and figure out how the system doesn't work. Because really the only people that benefit now are the agents. And they're encouraging guys to go out and get their second contract faster.

"But what they don't tell them is is if you're a fourth round draft pick, you've got like, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it's less than a 50-50 chance of getting a second contract. So that part they leave out."

Five Alabama players left a year of eligibility on the table with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix going in the first round, tackle Cyrus Kouandjio going in the second, safety Vinnie Sunseri in the fifth and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan in the sixth.

Linebacker Adrian Hubbard was among those who not drafted. But unlike many others, Hubbard, a fourth-year junior, has already graduated.

"You're much better off staying in college, trying to become a higher pick because where you get picked is what offers you security because the team invests more money in you, so they're going to try and develop you," Saban said. "And getting a college education has a tremendous value. I think people are overlooking that more and more and more."

Saban said college football is taking on more of a "basketball mentality." In basketball, players are allowed to leave for the NBA after just one season of college hoops. But Saban said that shouldn't be the way college football players think.

"Football has never been a game that anybody thought you could go from high school to the NFL," he said. "It's a different dynamic. It's a developmental game. So we develop a lot of players to the NFL, but I think right now there's a lot of guys that are making some decisions to leave early that are going to be detrimental to their football career."

Saban said he believes this issue will be discussed more throughout the offseason to "see if we can find some solutions to the problem." Still, Saban has a few suggestions on how to fix things.

"One thing that I offered as a solution was to have a better system of evaluating juniors so a guy gets a more specific idea of where he's going to get graded," Saban said. "All of this media stuff really doesn't help. There were three guys one of those media guys said was going to be a first round pick that didn't get drafted. So, soon as a guy sees he's rated by some media guy to be a first round pick, he's thinking 'I'm going out for the draft.'"

Heading into Alabama's 2013 season, Cyrus Kouandjio was projected to be the top offensive tackle taken in the 2014 draft. Ultimately, that honor ended up going to Auburn's Greg Robison.

"Just like last year, soon as the draft's over, they say Cyrus Kouandjio is the best tackle in the draft. Well he's not the best tackle in the draft," Saban said. "He was the sixth or seventh tackle taken in the draft. But in his mind, you've already planted the seed that 'Well I guess I should go out.' I think Cyrus is a really good player. I'm not saying he's not."

For Saban, it's about letting players know how they compare to others and giving them "more specific information so that guys can make good decisions." There's also the issue of the NFL scouting combine, Saban said.

"When you get the specific information, there should be some limitation on who can go to the combine," Saban said. "All these kids think I'm going to be a fifth or sixth round draft pick, we get that back from the junior committee. (They think) 'I'll go to the combine and I'll go from a fifth round to a first round.' Well that doesn't happen. It's unrealistic. The guy shouldn't be there to start with."

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