Draft shutout underscores Alabama's talent needs

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Those recruiting rankings are fun to talk about but hardly scientific. For more concrete evidence that Alabama's talent level hasn't been on par with other Southeastern Conference powers lately, check out the number of Crimson Tide players drafted by the NFL last weekend.

Zero. That NFL draft shutout was the first for Alabama since 1970 and only the second in the draft's 72 years. The Tide hasn't produced a first-rounder since Shaun Alexander and Chris Samuels eight years ago.

The good news: Those recruiting rankings, while not fool-proof, had Nick Saban's second class ranked as the nation's best. Validation of that lofty ranking will have to wait until, say, the 2012 NFL draft.

But it might not take quite that long with junior left tackle Andre Smith projected as a high future pick.

At least five Tide players signed free agent contracts. They include defensive end Wallace Gilberry, cornerback Simeon Castille and receiver DJ Hall.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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