It is expected to be a big night for Alabama as the first round of the NFL draft rolls on, but Nick Saban already has one of his most elusive conquests squared away. Tua Tagovailoa became the first quarterback coached by Saban to be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.
Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth overall draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday night.
For all the success Saban has had at Alabama, including in the NFL draft, a first-round quarterback was more a dream than a reality until now. Prior to Tagovailoa, Alabama had just two quarterbacks drafted by an NFL franchise since Saban took over as head coach of the Crimson Tide. AJ McCarron went in the fifth round in 2014 to the Cincinnati Bengals. Greg McElroy, who now is a college football analyst for ESPN, was a seventh-round selection of the New York Jets.
Saban has now successfully coached a first-round draft pick at every position, with the notable exception of a specialist position (Alabama kickers, am I right?). This makes Saban the first coach to have coached a first-round draft pick at every non-specialist position, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Despite all his success, Nick Saban has never produced a 1st-round QB.
If Tua Tagovailoa goes in the 1st round, Saban would be the 1st college head coach in the common draft era to produce a 1st-round pick at every non-specialist position. pic.twitter.com/GuRp4JTwkY
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 22, 2020
The last time Alabama had a first-round draft pick at the quarterback position was in 1976 when Richard Todd was taken sixth overall by the New York Jets. Two others have played quarterback for Alabama and gone in the first round. The first was Harry Gilmer in 1948. Gilmer was chosen first overall. Joe Namath was taken 12th overall in 1965. For those curious, Bart Starr, who went on to have a hall of fame career in the NFL, was a 17th round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1956 (take THAT, Tom Brady).
Alabama could potentially tie a draft record with the most first-round draft picks. The record of six first-round draft picks is currently held by the Miami Hurricanes in the 2004 NFL draft.