Published April 27, 2011 - 5:08am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
What has the deepest-rooted rivalry?
Who pays the most per recruiting class?
Who has the best freshman quarterback who hasn’t proven anything yet?
Which team knows the police better?
Which cheerleaders are the most … “entertaining?”
Get the picture? College football fans, especially the guys that follow the best conference on the planet, are going to find something to argue about with their buddies. And this time of year – the most boring season for college football fans – one argument sticks out above all others:
Which team puts the most talent in to The League?
Recently, Pete Bigelow of AnnArbor.com wrote an article highlighting the fall of the Big 10 (or 11 or 12 – however many teams they have at this point) by showing the decreasing number of 1st round draft picks produced by the conference. Bigelow also noted a pretty big influx of SEC talent in the 1st round and drew the conclusion that the SEC has become the most talented conference in college football (Tell us something we don’t know, right?).
This year, out of the 25 players selected to be in New York for the draft, 9 (Randall Cobb, Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley, AJ Green, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson, and Mike Pouncey) hail from the SEC. In addition to that, some NFL Draft projections have put as many as 6 SEC guys in the top 10. If that scenario plays out, it’ll only solidify what we already know – that the SEC is the conference with the most talent in the country.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at how the SEC teams stack up against one another in terms of putting players in The League.
At The Top
Over the last 10 years, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee have put more talent in the league than anyone in the SEC. Over that stretch, Florida had 59 players drafted with 12 going in the first round, Georgia had 61 players drafted with 11 going in the first round, and Tennessee had 60 draftees with 12 of them being 1st rounders.
One thing that sticks out about those figures is that Florida has really maximized the production from their talented kids. Their 3 BCS Bowls and 2 BCS Championships definitely speak to their ability to amplify the impact of their great talent. Georgia did put together a couple of SEC Championships during the last decade, but Florida took it a step farther with the BCS Championships.
Tennessee? What has been going on in Knoxville? Tennessee has had the 2nd most players drafted in the SEC – 4th most in the nation – and the most 1st rounders in the SEC, but they’ve turned it into zero conference championships, zero BCS Bowls, and obviously zero BCS Championships over the last 10 years. With an average of 6 future professional football players joining the team each year over the last decade, it really appears that Tennessee should have won a lot more over the past few years. Nevertheless, you can’t knock the rich tradition of talent that the Vols have had over the last 10 years.
Middle Of The Road
Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, and South Carolina make up the next level of SEC teams in terms of NFL talent production. In fact, LSU might be better suited in the top category, but I only included in that group teams that had either 60+ players drafted or 10+ first rounders over the last 10 years. LSU, though, with 55 players drafted over the last decade (9 in the 1st round), has made the most of their talent level, translating it into a couple of BCS Championships.
And most recently, Alabama (42 players drafted) and Auburn (38 players drafted) have cashed in (probable pun) on their talent. Now, with players like Marcell Dareus, Cam Newton, Julio Jones, and Nick Fairley projected to be selected in the 1st round (and plenty of other guys who’ll be picked later), Alabama and Auburn will make huge strides in joining Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee at the top of this list. Another interesting note: out of the 9 SEC players invited to the Draft, 5 played their football at either Alabama or Auburn. It’s pretty easy to see who’s been stockpiling the talent over the last couple years.
On The Bottom
Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt come together to form the “We didn’t know you could play football after college” club. Each of these teams had less than 20 players drafted over the last decade, and none has had more than a couple players drafted in the first round over the same period. Worst of all, Mississippi State’s last 1st rounder was Walt Harris in 1996 – 15 years ago. That’s quite a difference from the rest of the SEC.
What do you think about these numbers? Do you think they are an indicator of the value of the football program? Or are you of the opinion that college football is about wins and losses – nothing more?