As the NFL Draft approaches, we'll be seeing dozens of college coaches throw out extremely favorable comparisons for any of their former players hoping to earn a spot on an NFL roster. While Nick Saban doesn't seem the type to be prone to exaggeration, he clearly isn't afraid to put some notable names in the same sentence as his star pupils-- as we can see from his most recent comments about Tua Tagovailoa.
In an interview with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated for his weekly column MMQB, Saban was asked about scouts comparing Tagovailoa to Drew Brees. Saban agreed, and threw in another eventual Hall of Famer, too:
“I think he’s a lot like Drew Brees. I always thought Aaron Rodgers was a lot like that as a player too,” said Saban. “Not overly big, accurate with the ball, really good judgment, decision-making. Those guys are the style of player. I would never say the expectation should be he would accomplish what those guys have, I’d never wanna put that on a guy. But that’s the style of player he is.”- Via Albert Breer, SI
As a coach quite experienced in avoiding the pitfalls of sports media, Saban hedged enough at the end of the quote to prevent people from losing their minds. Still, it's quite a pair of names to put next to Tagovailoa, no matter how good of a prospect he appears.
In regards to Saban's size comparison, Tagovailoa measures in at 6'1", 218 pounds. That's right in between Rodgers (6'2", 225 lbs) and Brees (6'0", 209 lbs), so he's certainly spot-on there.
Tagovailoa also may be following a similar career path to that pairing; Rodgers infamously sat for years behind Brett Favre before taking the reigns, and Brees sat for a season behind Doug Flutie in San Diego before landing his own starting job. Tagovailoa's hip injury suffered this past football season may result in a redshirt year of sorts where he sits for much, if not all, of next year to ensure he's fully healthy for whichever team picks him this coming April. That's all very dependent on his medical examinations at the NFL Combine next weekend, of course.
The rest? That's all yet to come.