Nick Saban Offers a Neat Player Comp for New Vikings Pass Rusher

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Throughout the history of college football, there are few coaches with the resume of Nick Saban.

During his 28 years of coaching, Saban never had a losing record, and he holds a record for his seven national championships. Of course, he was most recently at Alabama before retiring this winter, but the former Crimson Tide head coach recently offered a very intriguing player comparison for new Vikings pass rusher Dallas Turner.

Nick Saban Offers Player Comp for Dallas Turner

Nick Saban
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Unless they’ve lived under a rock for the past few days, Vikings fans know that Minnesota decided to trade up twice in the first round. First, they snatched their quarterback of the future in J.J. McCarthy at No. 10 before deciding to move up again to No. 17 and taking Turner.

Turner is an elite athlete as a pass rusher, and his skillset combined with ridiculous length should provide Brian Flores with a fun weapon to utilize in 2024. Here is what Saban had to say of Turner in terms of an NFL comparison during the ESPN broadcast of the draft:

“People keep comparing him to Will Anderson; he’s more like Dont’a Hightower. He went inside, he got outside, we stood him up, he’s a good rusher. He can take gaps inside. So I think the versatility is phenomenal.”

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Saban is more than qualified to make such a comparison not only because he is an elite football mind, but because he coached both Hightower and Turner throughout their collegiate careers. Hightower was a linebacker with the Crimson Tide from 2008-2011 before being selected with the 25th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.

During Hightower’s 10-year NFL career (entirely played in New England), he put together 569 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, 18 passes defended, and an interception while being named to the Pro Bowl twice.

Funny enough, for the first seven years of Hightower’s career, current Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores was on New England’s staff. Flores was the linebackers coach for the Patriots in three of those seasons from 2016-2018, helping New England get to three straight Super Bowls while winning two of them.

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For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if Turner can live up to the high praise that is being donned upon him by his former college coach. However, if he comes anywhere near Hightower’s impact and production at the NFL level, the Vikings could have a very fun weapon on their defensive unit.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.