No. 2 Alabama, 36 players from 2015 to 2018
How do you become, arguably, the greatest head coach of all-time? Three reasons: players, players, players.
How’s this for being a factory for next-level talent? No Bama players were selected in the 2008 Draft after Nick Saban’s first season at the helm, and just five were picked following a 12-2 campaign with a run to the SEC Championship game. That was a good thing.
In 2009, all the remaining talent helped Bama go 14-0 with a national title in Saban’s only unbeaten season. Seven players were selected in the 2010 Draft, and Julio Jones headlined the 2011 class with just five players taken, but four went in the first round.
Eight players were selected in the 2012 Draft – including four first-rounders, and nine more Bama stars were selected in 2013, with three going in the first round.
So, after winning three national titles and sending 33 players to the NFL Draft in seven seasons, recruiting becomes a whole lot easier – and Saban and his staff haven’t taken their feet off the gas pedal.
The 2014 team was knocked out by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, and Amari Cooper and seven Bama players were taken in the 2015 Draft. That was okay – enough stars were still there to take down the 2015 national championship.
Seven more players were selected in the 2016 Draft, with six of them going in the first first 60 picks. But how do you lose a Heisman-winner in Derrick Henry and all that talent without taking a step back? Alabama had no problem.
The 2016 team might have been Saban’s best, but it ran into the Deshaun Watson buzzsaw in the final minutes in Tampa to miss out on a second straight national title. Four players went in the first round, seven went in the top 55, and ten in all were selected in the 2016 draft.
And yet, after losing 24 NFL draft picks in three years, Bama was still able to win the 2017 national title.
With four picks in the first round and 12 in all, the 2018 Draft was another amazing weekend for Saban and the program. And there will be more.
But the Crimson Tide just barely missed out on the greatest four year draft run in college football history.