Nick Saban shares unique comparison for top Vikings draft pick

Former Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Former Alabama head coach Nick Saban / Michael Chang/GettyImages

Last Thursday, the Minnesota Vikings used their second pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft to select former Alabama pass rusher Dallas Turner.

With Danielle Hunter leaving to sign with the Houston Texans earlier this year, the Vikings are hoping that Turner can come in and help make up for the departure of the team's longtime pass rusher.

At Alabama last season, Minnesota's newest edge defender accumulated a total of 55 pressures and 11 sacks in 14 games thanks to an impressive pass-rush win rate of 19.6 percent, according to PFF.

Nick Saban compares Minnesota Vikings rookie Dallas Turner to former Alabama linebacker

Leading up to this year's NFL Draft, a number of different pro comparisons were thrown around for Turner. From Brian Burns to Von Miller to Peter Boulware, the Vikings' newest defender has been compared to some of the best pass rushers to ever step foot on an NFL field.

While those comparisons are some that might create the most headlines, former Alabama head coach Nick Saban recently shared the following about a former NFL player who he believes Turner compares similarly to.

"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.”

Dont'a Hightower was a 6-foot-3, 260-pound linebacker who was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots out of the University of Alabama. Turner has similar size (6-foot-3, 247 pounds) and he was also drafted by a team with Brian Flores on its coaching staff.

Back in 2012, when the Patriots drafted Hightower, Flores was in the middle of his ninth year as a member of New England's staff. Now, as Minnesota's defensive coordinator, did Flores' time with Hightower have an impact on the Vikings selecting Turner last week?

It will be interesting to see how Minnesota decides to use their new edge rusher in their defense next season. Will the majority of Turner's duties be as a pass rusher like a Brian Burns or a Von Miller, or will he be asked to be more versatile as Hightower was during his time with the Patriots?

During their first year with Flores leading the way last season, the Vikings' defense made some great strides in the right direction. With the additions of guys like Turner, Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Blake Cashman, and Shaq Griffin, Minnesota should be able to make even more improvements on the defensive side of the ball next season.

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