There's no questioning that Nick Saban has built a football dynasty in Tuscaloosa. Since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007, the Alabama head coach has won 5 national titles and produced 2 Heisman Trophy winners. His program has more players in the NFL than any other with 52. Even the biggest "War Eagle" shouter has to look at the team with something approaching awe, after their blood pressure stops spiking.
Given that this season they've been regularly blowing out their college rivals, Sports Illustrated decided to ask former Alabama players if they think that a Nick Saban squad could win against an NFL team. While the results were mixed, almost all of them confidently said that Alabama would win at least one game against the pros.
The biggest booster was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Reggie Ragland, who said that he could see Alabama playing into January.
“We would beat NFL teams,” Ragland said. “I ain’t even gon’ lie to you; it’d be a winning record, and we’d make the playoffs.”
Other players were a bit more measured in their takes. Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus thinks that the clean style of play drilled into the teams by Saban would net them a few wins at the top tier.
“The NFL is way too strong, way too fast. There are too many dogs in the NFL,” Dareus explained. “I’ll safely say four wins. We’d beat teams because they would make more mistakes than Alabama. We may not be as physical, but other teams would make mistakes we would not.”
“Being in the league, I can see where guys from other schools didn’t get our kind of coaching,” he added. “The way Coach Saban taught us was just a different way. We look at this game differently.”
Dareus' teammate Calais Campbell was skeptical.
“You're talking about kids!” he countered. “Even a team of rookies has no chance. You might have four or five NFL stars on an Alabama team, but they’ve got to develop first. It took Mark [Ingram] a couple years to develop. It takes everyone time!”
Even the most negative of all the former Alabama players said that the squad would take home at least one game in an NFL season.
"It’s different on this level,” Mark Ingram said. “It’s hard to win in this league. Even the worst team has the best players from every college...We’d win at least once. I can’t say we’d whoop on the worst teams in the league, but we’d win.”
Alabama is currently the only undefeated team in the SEC, having won 11 straight games behind the play of their Heisman candidate QB Tua Tagovailoa. While they might not be able to take an elite NFL squad, it seems like plenty of Saban's former players would take even money on a game against the Bills.