Perhaps the biggest miss of Nick Saban‘s illustrious coaching career was not signing Drew Brees as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. As the famous story goes, the Dolphins team doctors failed Brees on a physical, Miami wound up signing Daunte Culpepper instead, and Brees went to the New Orleans Saints and became a legend. Things have obviously worked out for Saban, who became the head coach at Alabama shortly thereafter, but he used the example when asked about the situation that left star linebacker Dylan Moses undrafted.
Moses was a five-star recruit out of high school, and a key member of Alabama’s 2017 class. He emerged as a sophomore in 2018, recording 86 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks on the season.
Unfortunately, a knee injury cost Moses the entire 2019 season. He returned this year and was very productive, recording 76 tackles (six for loss), a sack, and an interception en route to the national title. He admitted that he played through pain throughout 2020. It was a legitimate surprise that he went entirely undrafted, and it sounds like his medical situation is to blame. Nick Saban believes in Moses’ ability to contribute at the next level, and compared the situation to the one that cost the Dolphins the chance to add Brees.
“Don’t forget, when I was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, doctors failed Drew Brees on a physical,” he told reporters at a recent fundraiser, per ProFootballTalk. “From that time on he made about 14 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl, passed for I don’t know how many thousands of yards. So I guess they make mistakes, too.”
“It had nothing to do with what kind of football player he is,” Saban continued. “It was based on medical grades by the teams, which, frankly, was a little surprising to me.
“In my time in the league, when guys were injured and they came back and played, that usually got out of that 5 medical grade, which is undraftable. It might have been a 4 medical grade, which means a guy does have an injury, it could be a problem in the future, but he’s come back and played with it so we ought to give him an opportunity, which I certainly think that’s where Dylan Moses should’ve fallen for sure and should’ve gotten an opportunity because he played all season long for us. And I think that should be a good enough indicator that he can play in the NFL.”
If Nick Saban is right, his old college football rival Urban Meyer is the one who will benefit. Moses signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, and is one of the biggest names in that group.