Alabama head coach Nick Saban explained the key advice he gives to his players to get drafted in the NFL

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Nick Saban. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
  • Alabama football head coach Nick Saban says "and" and "but" are the two most important words in the NFL draft process.

  • Saban said teams want great players on the field and off, not players who are talented but trouble.

  • Saban said he tells players that good decisions off the field create value and will land them jobs.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Alabama football head coach Nick Saban believes that when NFL teams are evaluating players for the NFL draft, the key tie-breaker is the player's off-field conduct.

Speaking on a Q&A with the Louisiana Football Coaches Association, Saban explained that he tells players that "And" and "But" are the two most important words when it comes to evaluating prospects.

"They read the player [draft report]. I'll take a defensive back," Saban said. "He's got quick feet, change of direction, got good long speed, can play man-to-man, he's a good tackler, he's got toughness, got really good ball judgment and really good ball skills - and, he's a really good person, he was a leader on the team, he graduated from school, coaches loved him."

Saban then described the same player with a "but."

"But - he had a positive drug test, he had a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend, got in a fight at a bar when he was a freshman, strength coach said he wouldn't p--- on him if he was on fire.

"Who do you want on your team: 'and' or 'but'?"

Saban said he constantly tells players not to give teams a reason to say "but."

"What I tell players is, you don't realize that as soon as you apply for a job, as soon as you put your name into the draft, people are looking for reasons not to pick you. They're looking for reasons not to hire you," Saban said. "So don't give anybody a reason to say 'but.' It's the only way that you can create value for yourself."

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Saban spent eight years in the NFL and has seen dozens of his players get drafted in his 14 years in Alabama.

His reasoning doesn't differ much from his friend Bill Belichick's roster-building philosophy, either.

Belichick always looks for fit and value in the draft. He also once told Urban Meyer that he wants to coach players he likes.

"He takes these players that you haven't really heard much about and all of a sudden they're making great plays in the biggest games of the year," Meyer explained at a coaching clinic.

"I started asking him about it and he made this point to me, and I shared this with our team. He said: 'At this point in my career, I want to coach guys I like. I want to coach guys I want to be around and that's it, and I'm not going to coach anybody else.'"

The NFL draft process is occasionally mocked, as teams run players through silly tests to determine intelligence, competitiveness, and their overall personalities. The biggest difference-maker might be who teams would rather have in their locker rooms.

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