NFL teams love drafting SEC players

Posted Monday, May. 05, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information

Top SEC prospects

The SEC could have a “down” year in the NFL Draft with only eight players appearing to be solid first-round picks. The SEC had 11 first-rounders last year.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: He is the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: He could go as high as No. 2 overall to the Rams.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: He still hopes to go to Houston.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Aggies will have a top-10 offensive lineman for the second consecutive year.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: The Aggies could end up with three top 10 picks.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: He rates as one of the top safety prospects.

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama: He ranks as the top prospect at ILB.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: He expects to be a late first-rounder.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Nearly every prospect at the NFL Scouting Combine gets a similar, innocuous question: How did you get where you are today?

Players from SEC schools inevitably credit their conference for their success.

“That’s why you want to come play in this conference, because it’s the most exciting, and it has the most elite competitors and the most elite talent,” South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw said.

The SEC has had a team play in eight consecutive national championship games, winning seven. The only loss came in January when Florida State beat Auburn.

It likely comes as no surprise, then, that the SEC has ruled the NFL Draft during that same time span.

The conference could borrow the Olympic motto: Faster, higher, stronger.

“SEC players … play at a top-notch level,” Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “So if you play at a top level in the SEC, [you’re the best of the best].”

Though Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops might want to call it “propaganda,” the numbers say otherwise.

In the past seven drafts, NFL teams have selected 305 players from the SEC, including 63 first-rounders. That’s 17.1 percent of the 1,779 draft picks, and 28.1 percent of the 224 first-rounders.

“I don’t think it’s hype,” Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said. “I think you just look at the numbers. There are just so many good, quality programs, and so many good, quality athletes at every program.

“I think there are some factors to that. When you’re in a warm-weather place, you can play football year-round pretty much. I think that helps. Then, there’s just the emphasis that’s placed on football from junior high on. I know there are some other places like that, too, but it just seems like it’s more so in the SEC.”

The SEC had a banner year in 2013. It set a record with 63 NFL Draft picks, more than double any other conference. The ACC’s 31 selections ranked second but trailed even the SEC East, which had 32 picks, and tied the SEC West.

Of the SEC’s 63 selections last year, 12 were first-rounders. That tied the NFL Draft record.

The bottom line: The NFL loves SEC players.

“I think that the SEC is probably the deepest conference in college football, and I think you do see a little bit of a difference in those players just in the level of competition and what they’ve had to go up against,” Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all encompassing, but I think overall they’re a little bit more NFL-ready.”

The SEC placed 305 players on NFL rosters for opening day last year, 18 percent of all 1,696 NFL players. LSU had 39 NFL players, Georgia 36, Alabama 30 and Tennessee 30. Every SEC school had double-digit NFL players last season except Vanderbilt, which had seven players on NFL rosters.

The conference could have a “down” year in next week’s NFL Draft, with only eight prospects appearing to be sure-fire first-rounders. The SEC last had fewer players drafted in the first round in 2008, when only six were selected. But an SEC player is expected to be the No. 1 overall choice, with the Houston Texans considering South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The Aggies could have three top 10 picks, with Manziel, offensive tackle Jake Matthews and receiver Mike Evans.

“It’s a way of life in the SEC,” said NFL.com draft expert Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys former player personnel director. “A lot of families are seeped in football in those areas of the country. They’ve got skill players. They’ve got the big, strong, dedicated linemen. They’ve got the quarterbacks. They’ve got unbelievable coaching. They all have great off-season programs. ... The SEC has the best of the best.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
Washington 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Orlando TV: CSN-DC, FSN-FL
New York 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: TNT
Detroit 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-DET, FSN-N
Utah 10/30 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ROOT-NW, FSN-SW
Oklahoma City 10/30 10:30 PM ET
LA Clippers TV: TNT
Full Scoreboard
Week 9Full Scoreboard
Thursday
New Orleans 8:25 PM ET
Carolina TV: NFL Network
Sunday
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: FOX
Arizona 1:00 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Philadelphia 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: FOX
NY Jets 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: CBS
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
St. Louis 4:05 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Denver 4:25 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NBC
Monday
Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET
NY Giants TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Thursday, October 30Full Scoreboard
Boston 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: NESN, MSG-BUF
Winnipeg 10/30 7:00 PM ET
New Jersey TV: TSN3, MSG
Los Angeles 10/30 7:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NHLN, TVA2, FSN-W, ROOT
Chicago 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Ottawa TV: CSN-CH, RDSI, TSN5
Philadelphia 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CSN-PHI, SUN
Arizona 10/30 7:30 PM ET
Florida TV: FSN-AZ, FSN-FL
San Jose 10/30 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: CSN-CA, FSN-N+
Anaheim 10/30 8:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-PT, FSN-MW
NY Islanders 10/30 9:00 PM ET
Colorado TV: MSG+, Altitude
Montreal 10/30 10:00 PM ET
Vancouver TV: RDS, SN360
Full Scoreboard