Amarius Mims shrugs off Nick Saban's NFL draft night criticism

April 26, 2024, 5:49 PM

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Amarius Mims shrugged off criticism from someone who was once on the verge of coaching him.

When the Bengals selected Mims on Thursday with the 18th overall pick in the NFL draft, former Alabama coach Nick Saban questioned Mims' consistency throughout his playing career at Georgia.

As a high school prospect, Mims had once been committed to play for Saban before he ultimately signed with Georgia, where he made eight starts in 29 games over three seasons. During his introductory media session in Cincinnati, Mims wasn't fazed by Saban's comments.

"Everybody has their own opinions of me," Mims said Friday. "I don't really care about what he said or what he had to say, honestly. I'm just glad to be a Cincinnati Bengal."

The 6-foot-8 offensive tackle joins a team that features two other 6-8 players who anchor the Bengals' offensive line -- left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and right tackle Trent Brown. As a rookie, Mims said he is excited to learn the ropes from the two veterans as he settles into the NFL.

In his third year with the Bulldogs, the Mims made six starts at right tackle in 2023. He suffered an ankle injury in the conference opener against South Carolina that occurred in what he described Friday as a "freak accident" when another player fell on his leg while he was blocking a defensive end. The issue required "tightrope" surgery to repair the ankle, but Mims was able to return in six weeks.

He aggravated the injury, however, in the SEC championship game against Saban's Alabama squad, a 27-24 loss that eliminated Georgia from the College Football Playoff. Saban, who retired at the end of the season and was on the ABC broadcast of the NFL draft, questioned Mims' lack of college starts and his participation in the loss to Alabama.

"In the SEC championship game, he played the first 15 plays of the game and he's out -- takes himself out," Saban said. "I don't know what he injured, what he hurt, whatever, but you got to be a little bit more consistent if you're going to be a great player and starter in the National Football League."

Although lack of game reps might have been a knock against Mims leading up to the draft, the Bengals ended up benefiting from the questions surrounding the former five-star recruit.

"Had he played this whole season, the way he played in the tape we saw, there's a very low chance that we're even having an opportunity to pick him," Bengals offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher said Thursday.

Mims posed for pictures Friday with head coach Zac Taylor, holding his new No. 71 jersey, and talked about how much he was looking forward to playing for Cincinnati. Brown greeted Mims after his introductory presser and walked and talked with him as Mims continued his media obligations Friday.

Mims said the ankle issue is fully behind him as he prepares to get acclimated to the NFL.

And as for Saban's comments, Mims didn't appear to hold any ill will toward the seven-time championship coach.

"I got a lot of respect for Coach Saban, even when he said that," Mims said Friday. "He's one of the greatest college head coaches. It is what it is."