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Saban to meet with NFL to discuss an underclassmen combine

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HOOVER, Ala. -- Nick Saban's idea for a combine workout for underclassmen is gathering support, and the NFL is listening.

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"I think the NFL is very much interested in this," Saban said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. "We have a meeting scheduled in the near future to discuss some ways to implement this."

Saban wants a combine workout for underclassmen to help the NFL provide a more accurate scouting evaluation of where they might be selected in the NFL draft if they choose to leave college early. In turn, he hopes to squelch some of the bad advice underclassmen receive about whether to make an early jump to the pro ranks.

"There is a cross-section of people out there who maybe aren't giving young men responsible information about making this decision, which is indicative of 107 guys going out for the draft last year. Probably at least half of those guys probably shouldn't have made that decision relative to whether they didn't get picked, or where they got picked," Saban said. "They'd have been better off enhancing their draft status by staying in school and developing as a player. There is a group of people out there not being responsible on how they help these guys, and create unrealistic expectations of what their future might be as a football player based on where they are in their development."

The NFL Draft Advisory Board provides underclassmen with feedback on their draft status. Players apply for feedback in December and typically receive it in January, prior to the NFL's deadline to apply for early draft entry. In an effort to reduce the number of underclassmen who enter the draft early, the NFL changed its policies on feedback two years ago. Influences beyond that feedback -- be it sports agents, relatives, friends or others -- are at the heart of Saban's concern.

Saban first mentioned the idea at the annual SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., earlier this year, suggesting that the spring might be the best time for the event.

"Then when we ask (the NFL) in December, if they're interested in going out for the draft, we can get a more specific draft grade, because there have been too many missed calls relative to where guys get picked," Saban said. "I think that enhances (opportunity for) the irresponsible people to be able to influence guys, (who can say) 'Hey, even though you got a go-back-to-school grade, there were six guys last year that got that grade and got drafted in the first round.' You would eliminate that when you have more specific information so people can make a better choice about their future."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has expressed support for the idea, as well.

"I think people are listening. I think there was a lot of support among our conference coaches when we discussed it at the spring meetings in Destin," Saban said.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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