Nick Saban: Alabama players affected by draft grades before playoff loss
Alabama head coach Nick Saban said that some members of his football team might have been affected by NFL draft evaluations given out before the Crimson Tide's College Football Playoff semifinal loss in the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State.
Saban said during his press conference during the SEC Media Days on Wednesday that he would like to see official NFL draft grades moved to after the season.
Currently, the NFL Draft Advisory Board reveals its grades on Dec. 15, more than two weeks before Alabama lost 42-35 to Ohio State and days after the SEC Championship game.
"I just felt like in our experience last year our team chemistry from the SEC championship game to the playoff game was affected by something,” Saban said. "I think that to have a Dec. 15 deadline from when a junior can submit for a draft grade and then when you get that assessment back and then you have a playoff game coming up, it's my obligation as a coach to inform that young man to make him aware of that."
“We’re trying to get ready for a game and all the sudden a guy finds out he’s a first round pick," Saban said. "I think that it would be better not to submit that information to a player until he was finished competing in college. We've moved the draft (later in the year). We've not moved the date that a player has to declare (later)."
Saban later clarified that he wasn’t making an excuse for the loss.
“It wasn't an excuse at all for losing to Ohio State,” Saban told the SEC Network, according to FOXSports.com. “There is no excuse. We didn't play well. It's my responsibility, and I didn't manage it as well as I should have.”
Alabama blew a 15-point first half lead and gave up 537 yards of offense to Ohio State, who went on to win the national championship with a victory over Oregon.
Alabama had seven players selected in the 2015 NFL draft, including All-American wide receiver Amari Cooper in the first round, with running back T.J. Yeldon and safety Landon Collins being drafted in the second round.
The Crimson Tide open the 2015 season Sept. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, against Wisconsin and return just three offensive starters and seven players on defense from last year's squad that won 12 games.
- Scooby Axson