Every Alabama player the Detroit Lions drafted during the Nick Saban era

How many Alabama players did the Detroit Lions draft during the Nick Saban era?

/ Perry Knotts/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Over 17 seasons (2007-2023) under Nick Saban, and 201 wins and six national titles along the way, the Alabama football program became an NFL factory. Too many players drafted to possibly count (44 first-round picks), with no position untouched (though some positions far more than others). But with Saban's decision to retire this past week, arguably the most successful era for one program in college football history is over.

The Lions drafts have certainly had a bit of a Crimson (Tide) tint lately, with the drafting of wide receiver Jameson Williams (No. 12 overall in 2022), running back Jahmyr Gibbs (No. 12 overall in 2023) and defensive back Brian Branch (No. 45 overall in 2023). General manager Brad Holmes clearly likes Alabama players, and taking some more in this year's draft is certainly possible.

We know about Williams, Gibbs and Branch. But what other Alabama players did the Lions draft during the Nick Saban era?

How many Alabama players did the Detroit Lions drafted during the Nick Saban era?

Starting with the 2008 draft, which of course came after Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa, here are the six Alabama products the Lions have drafted during the Nick Saban era there.

  • TE Michael Williams: 7th Round, No. 211 overall-2013
  • DT A'Shawn Robinson: 2nd Round, No. 46 overall-2016
  • DT Da'Shawn Hand: 4th Round, No. 114 overall-2018
  • WR Jameson Williams, 1st Round, No. 12 overall-2022
  • RB Jahmyr Gibbs: 1st Round, No. 12 overall-2023
  • DB Brian Branch: 2nd Round, No. 45 overall-2023

After very good rookie seasons, Gibbs and Branch are already great marks on Holmes' draft record as Lions' general manager. Jameson Williams has made progress in a less-interrupted second season, and he looks to be a long-term piece.

Going back further, to previous Lions' regimes, Michael Williams as a non-entity as a seventh-round pick in 2013 and delivered as such (zero games played for the Lions, one NFL season overall).

Robinson and Hand have had more staying power.

Robinson played in 58 games and started 37 over four seasons in Detroit, with 172 total tackles and five total sacks. He then spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, and he spent this season with the New York Giants.

Hand played in 29 games with 11 starts over three-plus seasons with the Lions, highlighted by three sacks as a rookie in 2018. He spent the rest of the 2021season and all of 2022 with the Tennessee Titans, mostly injured (two games played total), and he played in 16 games (198 defensive snaps) for the Miami Dolphins this season.

Half of the Saban-era Alabama products the Lions have drafted have come in the last two drafts, and Holmes appears to have found great talent and culture fits in the trio of Williams, Gibbs and Branch. Overall, out of six players drafted from Saban's Alabama teams, five have made some kind of contribution for the Lions and if not for injury issues it's fair to assume Hand would have done more.

5 coaches who could be pried away from the Detroit Lions in 2024. dark. Next. 5 coaches who could be pried away from the Detroit Lions in 2024

feed