What SEC fans need to watch for tonight in the NFL Draft

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Dreams will turn into reality tonight for several SEC first-round picks. Playing on Sundays and being paid millions of dollars will now be a reality.

Radio City Music Hall will host yet another NFL Draft starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Jon Gruden are about to take over your TV screen.

Eleven former SEC players will attend the draft, and the notables include Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney and Greg Robinson. You can see them all here.

Here’s what we’ll be watching tonight:

The top dog: Will the Houston Texans select Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall? That’s the question everyone wants answered. Everyone’s been talking about Clowney since his sophomore year in high school, and now Houston is faced with the decision of taking him or not. Don’t blow this opportunity just because of one perceived down year. He’s the premier talent in the draft, and should Houston pass on Clowney, they’ll regret it later. Don’t over think it, Houston.

RELATED: Houston, it’s not rocket science: Take Clowney

Tying or breaking the record? The SEC set its own record (and tied a draft record) with 12 first-round picks last year. Anywhere from nine to 12 players are largely projected in this year’s first round. It’s doubtful the SEC will break the all-time record with 13, but it can certainly tie its own record of 12. Four of the first five picks could be former SEC players in Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, depending on how the draft shakes out.

The Aggie three: Think about Texas A&M: the Aggies should have three top 10 picks in Manziel, Matthews and Mike Evans. That’s very impressive, and it could turn into an Aggie infomercial by pick No 10. Texas A&M is going all Alabama in this year’s draft, after having the No. 2 overall pick last year in Luke Joeckel.

Through the weekend

The QB watch: The SEC’s bumper crop of quarterbacks invades the NFL Draft, but where will they land and where will they be picked? Seeing success as a quarterback depends more on the team that drafts you, as opposed to personal talent level. Johnny Manziel will be a first-round pick, and some have even projected AJ McCarron as a first-round pick. Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Connor Shaw should all hear their names called at some point. Seeing the teams that draft these quarterbacks will be entertaining to watch unfold.

RELATED: SEC team-by-team QB picture exiting spring

Draft leaders: LSU leads the SEC over the last decade with 61 total draft picks, with 14 of them being first-round picks. The Tigers will add to the total draft number, but only one player – Odell Beckham – is a first-round lock. Some have nine LSU players getting drafted; that would tie last year’s record. Georgia trails LSU with 58 picks, but it will be a down year for the Bulldogs in this year’s draft, and Alabama is third with 49 picks. The Tide and Tigers are tied with 14 first-round picks each, and the Tide could have as many as three.

RELATED: SEC draft numbers over the last decade

First off the board? One interesting thing to watch will be which former SEC star running back will come off the board first: LSU’s Jeremy Hill or Auburn’s Tre Mason. Most project it will be Hill, and some analysts have even projected Hill to sneak into the first round. I, too, think Hill projects better in the NFL, but it’s hard to argue against Tre Mason. Mason was the conference’s hottest player last season, and he’s the total package.

Photo Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • I’m glad McCarron is finally getting some respect… I think a lot of these guys (QB’s coming out of the SEC) are going to have far more success than any “experts” are predicting. In my opinion; the arm strength, size, and workouts have been overhyped. These guys (Murray, McCarron, Mettenberger, Shaw) have all shown what they can do, that they love the game, and that they won’t stop at anything to win. Let their play speak for itself.

  • The SEC always seems to have at least one star WR get drafted in the first round, a la A.J. Green or Julio Jones the last few years. However, I don’t remember a year in which this many 2nd to 3rd round talents (or better) have come out the same year. Jordan Matthews (he’s gonna make someone REAL happy), Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Mike Evans (monster), and Donte Moncrief (feed him….). Any other year, all 5 of these would be top 5ish receivers in a draft. Not this year, but they’ll all be highly coveted.

  • Ealy going in the first round will be a big deal for Mizzou. They’ve done a lot of sales on Mizzou being one of the top first round pick producers in recent years. If Ealy goes in the first, that’ll be 5 out of 7 picks on defense going in the first round the past 6 I believe (I may be off a little bit). Those first round picks on the D-Line is a big sales point for recruiting. I

    As a Mizzou fan, this is a big one to watch. Nonetheless, I’m so glad it’s draft day!