Dr. Saturday

Nick Saban has more NFL first-round picks at Alabama than Bear Bryant, in 19 fewer seasons

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(USA Today Sports Images)

This is a fascinating stat from Jon Solomon at Nick Saban has already passed Bear Bryant for number of first-round picks at Alabama.

Bryant produced 13 first-round picks in 25 seasons with the Crimson Tide. Saban has 14 in six seasons, which is hard to fathom. That's 19 fewer seasons for Saban than Bryant.

The Crimson Tide produced three more first-round picks last night, with cornerback Dee Milliner, guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker. The amazing thing is it could have easily been a couple more, because running back Eddie Lacy and defensive tackle Jesse Williams could both go in the second round on Friday.

There are plenty of qualifiers to Solomon's great stat, of course.

Also, one could make a logical argument that first-round picks have nothing to do with judging a college coach. For one example, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o didn't go in the first round this year, but it doesn't mean he wasn't a great college player. So take it for what it's worth. But the bigger point is this: A debate is coming some day soon, and it's going to be a really good one. Alabama fans are probably already uncomfortable by it, but ...

Is Saban going to go down as the greatest college coach ever, even surpassing the Crimson Tide's beloved Bryant?

The argument is gaining steam. Saban's last four years, with three national titles, is even better than Bryant's best four-year stretch. Saban still has a ways to go to catch Bryant's six national titles, but is closing fast considering he also had one title at LSU. Saban will have the preseason No. 1 team this season. A fourth national title in five years would be unprecedented by any team or coach in college football history. Saban recruits better than anyone else in the nation (Solomon also said Alabama's 14 first-round picks over a five-year period is second all-time to Miami's incredible 20 from 2000-04) and there's no signs he plans to quit coaching soon, either.

Maybe the first-round picks stat that Solomon pointed out might be more interesting than meaningful. But Saban's argument keeps getting stronger and stronger, and his ability to recruit, develop and produce more top talent than anyone else is part of it.

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