Prior to the draft, my best guess at the Chiefs pick was ILB Rolando McClain. One important part of my reasoning was that he came from a Nick Saban-coached defense. Saban, of course, previously worked in the NFL. He was with Chiefs GM Scott Pioli in Cleveland and later coached the Dolphins.
Having a former NFL coach as your college coach provides a big advantage, particularly when that coach comes from the same defensive background as your coordinator.
That's the case with the Chiefs second round pick, Alabama CB Javier Arenas. He comes from the Saban defense and has a leg up on everyone else in terms of expectations.
"For the most part, he prepared us great," Arenas said. "It was huge to have him as a college coach and at the same time, when you get up here, it is more than just mental preparation, it is physical. You are playing grown men and you have to go out there and compete. The things that he taught us are vital but at the same time we have to do our own thing. We have to fight to survive."
It doesn't hurt that Todd Haley has a little Saban in him when it comes to their, um, vocal coaching styles.
Similarly, Eric Berry comes from Tennessee where, in his senior year, he was coached by famed defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. He didn't run the 3-4 defense like Saban in Alabama but still provided Berry with the proper expectations heading into the NFL.
"Really he was just showing me the way the NFL does things as far as the practices, the procedures, how you prepare for practices [and] meeting schedules," Berry said. "The schedule, it's pretty much the same minus the class the stuff. He really prepared me for this level."
It's the little things like the schedules that you don't think about. Even having similar practice schedules, practice preparation and meeting times can provide an advantage.
Then you come into the NFL and your position coach happens to be in the Hall of Fame. Not a bad set-up for these two.