As Thursday’s draft day looms, another round of SEC players will be injected into pro football. As many as 12 or 13 former SEC players are projected as first-round picks.
A year removed from a record-setting draft, which was basically a conference infomercial, some have projected as many as 25 former SEC players being selected in the first three rounds, including four of the top five picks.
Over the last 10 years, 421 SEC players have been drafted, including 83 first-round picks. Specifically over the last five years, SEC programs have seen 248 players drafted.
The argument from around college football is the media props the SEC up every year; that aided the conference winning seven straight BCS National Championships. Other coaches take pot shots about the depth of the conference. Some have stated the SEC is merely a few good teams propped up on a house of cards.
But two NFL coaches aren’t singing the same tune. Rather, Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith says the hype is justified, via the Star-Telegram.
“I don’t think it’s hype,” 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.”
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen echoed Smith’s sentiments.
“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,” Allen said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all encompassing, but I think overall they’re a little bit more NFL-ready.”
NFL Draft expert and former Cowboys’ player personnel director Gil Brandt thinks the SEC is the ‘best of the best’.
“It’s a way of life in the SEC,” said Brandt. “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.”
College football is cyclical, and the SEC won’t be on top forever. So, enjoy it while the conference is in its Golden Age.
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