Bengals first round pick responds to criticism from Nick Saban

Amarius Mims didn't seem to be too bothered by Saban's words.
NFL Combine
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Cincinnati Bengals first round draft pick Amarius Mims responded to criticism from college coaching legend Nick Saban, who questioned Mims' motor after Cincinnati selected him with the No. 18 overall pick.

With his response, Mims opted to take the high road rather than let Saban's words rattle him.

"Like I said, everybody has their own opinions on me. . . . I don't really care what he said or what he had to say," Mims said. "I'm just glad to be a Cincinnati Bengal. It is what it is. . . . I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Saban, even when he said that. He’s one of the greatest college head coaches. Like I said, it is what it is, but I’m just glad I’m a Cincinnati Bengal.”

That's a very solid, diplomatic response from the rookie, who will be well-served to continue to let external noise and criticism go in one ear and out the other.

What did Saban say?

Saban provided added analysis during the draft for ESPN and ABC. While discussing Cincinnati's first round selection, Saban praised Mims' skill set, but seemed to question his heart and/or motor while pointing at his level of inexperience.

“This guy’s got all the tools -- he’s got great size, he’s got great power,” Saban said during the draft. “But it makes you wonder, how did the guy only start eight [games?] Like, in the SEC championship game, he played only the first 15 plays of the game and then he’s out. Takes himself out. 

"I don’t know what he injured, what he hurt, whatever," he added. "But you’ve got to be a little bit more consistent in your performance if you’re going to be a great player and a starter in the National Football League.”

Saban suggested that Mims has been able to rely on his physical gifts up to this point in his career. However, he doesn't think that's going to fly in the NFL where every player has extreme talent. Now, he thinks Mims is really going to have to put in the work to improve his craft and excel in the NFL.

“One of the things that I see in guys -- he went to a small high school,” Saban said. “He was always bigger and better than everybody else. So do you ever really develop the traits that you need to have to compete against guys that are as good as you? He’s gonna play against guys that are as good as him, now. So if he didn’t develop those habits, he better focus on them now.”

Clearly, the Bengals were high enough on Mims to use their sole first round pick on him, so Saban's onionion on the situation is largely irrelevant. All Mims has to do is focus on becoming the best version of himself in a Bengals uniform and continue to brush off criticsm, no matter how famous of well-respected they are.